READ MORE – BENDIGO GOLD TO FOLD
STEVEN Stroobants has unfinished business in the VFL.
Classy forward Stroobants was captain of the Bendigo Gold when the club folded at the end of the 2014 VFL season.
However, after spending the past three years playing with Rochester in the Goulburn Valley league – kicking 193 goals in 61 games – Stroobants is making a return to VFL with North Melbourne’s new stand-alone team.
“My mindset was I wanted to play the best football I could for the longest possible time, but with the demise of the Bendigo Gold, it was obviously disappointing with how that ended,” Stroobants said on Wednesday.
READ MORE – STROOBANTS: WE’LL FIGHT IT RIGHT OUT
“With my life situation at the time, it wasn’t the best time to move down to Melbourne to join a new VFL club, so I had the past three years at Rochy and then a random opportunity came up where I ran into one of the North Melbourne recruiters (Ben Birthisel) at a TAC Cup game when I was presenting some jumpers to a couple of Bendigo Pioneer first-gamers.
“I had a chat with them and it has just gone from there. I still think I’ve got three or four years of footy in me where I can really contribute at VFL or at a high level of metro or country football.”
North Melbourne has already shown the high regard in which it holds Stroobants, naming the 29-year-old among the VFL team’s leadership group of six.
“I definitely feel I can have a big impact in the small forward role that I’ll be playing. I’ve played two intra-club matches with the AFL team and I’m learning stuff every day,” said Stroobants, who has also previously played with South Bendigo and the Bendigo Pioneers.
“If North Melborune has a healthy AFL list then it’s going to limit the opportunities and we’ve got a strong VFL list, so it’s going to be tough for spots, but I feel I’ll be able to get a game each week.”
North Melbourne has a VFL list of 24 players that has a Bendigo flavour.
As well as Stroobants – who will remain aligned with Rochester – North Melbourne’s VFL team will also include 2016 Sandhurst premiership player Koe Ngawati and Kyneton’s Jordan Mangan, who is nursing a broken ankle
“Koe has been super with his attitude and the work he has put in and I can see him playing some footy with us in the VFL team,” Stroobants said.
“Jordan had a good pre-season, but in our first practice match broke his ankle, which is unfortunate at this time of the year.”