Warrnambool’s Louis Herbert will today swap his cricket bat for footy boots when he lines up for the North Ballarat Rebels. LAST weekend, Louis Herbert was playing in the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association division one cricket grand final.
Nanjing Night Net

Today he swaps his bat for footy boots when he lines up with the North Ballarat Rebels in the opening round of the TAC Cup competition.

The 17-year-old, in his second year with the Rebels, is a rare find in an era of increasingly professional approaches to elite junior sport.

In a hectic summer, the South Warrnambool midfielder combined heavy footy training commitments with holding down a spot in Nestles’ division one cricket side, which was undefeated before being beaten by West Warrnambool last Sunday.

Herbert, whose father Peter was a member of nine Nestles cricket premierships after a footy career that included being signed by VFL club Fitzroy, said he was excited about today’s season-opener against Murray Bushrangers in Ballarat.

He said his preferred game was “definitely footy”.

“I just love it a lot more,”he said.

“I feel like I am better at footy than cricket. I grew up in the Western Waves (elite junior cricket program) system but this year I decided footy was the go.

“I have more of an opportunity in footy than cricket. In cricket there is only the 11 and there are 500 to 600 AFL footballers.”

Herbert’s dream is to make it to the AFL one day and he understands the opportunities he gets this year with the Rebels will shape his future prospects. After playing four games last year, he is hungry for a full year in the midfield or across half-forward, with his long-range aim an invitation to a draft camp.

Standing 187 centimetres tall and weighing 74 kilograms, Herbert has the perfect build for a midfielder. He is also quick.

In the off-season, he revealed he had undertaken an intense running and weight training program which had seen him add 5kg to his light frame.

But mixing his two sports hadn’t been without challenges. “It’s been tough over summer,”he said.

“There have been practice matches while the cricket finals were on. There was a practice match at Geelong and I had a semi-final. The coach said it would be hard to pick me round one if I didn’t play.

“I played cricket and fortunately I’ve still been picked for round one.”

Selection for today’s game was one of his pre-season goals but now that has been achieved, he is well aware the hard work is just beginning.

Herbert, who was in the top five bottom-age players for speed over 20 metres last year, covered the distance in 2.94 seconds in testing recently. He is the second-quickest player on the Rebels list.

“We are the fittest TAC Cup side in the competition and quickest over 20 metres,” he said.

Herbert is one of six south-west players in the Rebels line-up today. He will be joined by South Warrnambool teammates Will Pomorin and Liam Youl, Koroit’s Haydn Drew and Marty Gleeson and Portland’s Jaydon Stiles.

The Rebels and Bushrangers open a double-header TAC Cup fixture at 11am at Ballarat’s Eureka Stadium, with the Geelong Falcons and Bendigo Pioneers clashing at 1.30pm. The Geelong Falcons also have a strong south-west flavour today, with Cobden’s Daniel Watson and Sam Cunnington, Kolora-Noorat’s Nick Bourke, Terang Mortlake’s Lewis Taylor and Xavier Lourey, Colac’s Darcy Lang and Brody Mahoney and South Colac’s Dylan McCarthy all named in the side.

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