SOUTH Mildura SFNL co-coach Carl Robertson has backed South Australian recruit Michael Balas to turn heads in the SFNL.
Balas, from Willunga in SA’s Great Southern Football League, has not played A Grade (senior) football since 2017 after injuring his ankle and taking time off but Robertson believed he could fly under the radar.
“He’ll be the surprise packet of the league I’m tipping,” Robertson said.
“He’s a rover, the past 18 months he hurt his ankle pretty bad and he’s a chippy by trade, he’s actually built his own house and hasn’t been playing much.”
Balas played in South Adelaide’s SANFL underage system throughout his junior career and also won the GSFL’s under-18 league best and fairest in 2011.
Balas joins the Bulldogs for 2021 along with fellow South Australians Matt Spencely and Matt Min.
Adelaide-based midfielder-forward Spencely, a former Adelaide Crows Reserves player, played some football in this year’s COVID-affected season with Christies Beach in SA’s Southern Football
League. Before that he was a key player with Waikerie in the Riverland Football League.
The Riverland, like Sunraysia, did not have a season in 2020.
He played in Waikerie’s three flags between 2016 and 2018 and also the club’s 2019 grand final loss, winning the Riverland’s Footballer of the Year in 2016.
“He averaged just under three goals a game at Waikerie, when he does change forward he’s a bit like what (Carmelo) Lando was back in the day, one-on-one he doesn’t get beaten,” Robertson said. “It hits the ground and it’s all over.”
Min, who is based at Barmera where he works as a teacher, played for Barmera-Monash but spent 2020 with Hope Valley in Division Four of the Adelaide Footy League where he kicked 63 goals in 11 games.
“He’s probably 6’2, 6’3 (and) absolutely brilliant one-on-one. His foot skills are the same both sides of his body – you can’t pick whether he’s a left-footer or a right-footer,” Robertson said.
“He’s just a brilliant kick for goal, recruited specifically to try and straighten us up.”
Coming off a wooden spoon in 2019, Robertson said these recruits would help get the club back on track after a difficult past few years.
“We’ve put in a lot of work to try and turn the club around, they are just sick of being beaten and continually put down,” Robertson said.
“We’ve obviously targeted players we need and that are good people as well.”
“We’ve retained a few that were going to play this year, so all in all we’re looking to have 8-10 new players – a couple of ex locals are coming back which probably puts us upwards of 10 new players which will create a competitive team which is all we are after before we move into the new precinct.”
Robertson steps up to coach this season from the bench, with Ben Dalton his playing co-coach.
The pair replace John Pratt, who has returned to South Australia.
In a further boost to the club, former AFL rookie listed player Haydn Kiel will play in 2021 after initially being recruited from Queensland for this season.
Story and photos courtesy of Sunraysia Daily