K rock Football

Ettridge finds his way to Lara

Bailey Ettridge in action for North Shore. (Sports Media Image/Marcel Berens)

IT has taken two years longer than he would have hoped, but Bailey Ettridge has found his way to GFL club Lara.

Ettridge first lodged a clearance to the Cats in 2019, which was rejected by then club North Shore, who he was contracted to that year.

An appeal to AFL Victoria was then dismissed.

However, the Seagulls agreed to release Ettridge to junior club Anakie, where he kicked 28 goals in nine games, including hauls of six against Belmont Lions and Geelong West Giants.

The 22-year-0ld had signed with the Roos for the 2020 season before it was cancelled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ettridge, who played 34 senior games at North Shore, will join his brother Kane at the Snakepit.

“He brings some different to a lot of 0ther players,” Lara coach Shayne Stone said.

“He has really quick feet, he’s strong through the core, got a bit of a goal sense -which is something we’ve tried to improve on the last couple of years – and he’s a good age – that early-to-mid-20s.”

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Stone says the former Geelong Falcon will likely spend the majority of his time in the forward line.

“We see him as that explosive forward that we can use through the middle,” he said.

“At times, he has been used across half-back as well – he’s a good ball user.

“But, primarily, he’s coming in to give us a little bit of firepower up forward.”

The arrival of Ettridge and return of Mitch Day ahead of the 2020 season will see Lara with arguably its most potent forward line since Day and Shaydon Bloomfield partnered together between 2012-14.

Stone said all bar one of the Cats recruits for this year has committed, with Northern Territory product Keanu Lee-Feeney yet to confirm his intentions.

“He headed up to Darwin for his sister’s wedding, so I’ve got to catch up with him.

“But, he’s happy, and if he’s in Melbourne, he’ll definitely be playing for us.”

Lara has also reached out to post-2019 departures Bayley Cockerill (Barwon Heads), Nick Egan (Newtown & Chilwell) and former captain Jordan Hopper (North Geelong) to gauge their interest on returning to Bisinella Oval.

“We’ve touched base with them all, but I don’t think all will come back,” Stone said.

“All the one-pointers that have left in the last couple of years we’ve touched base with, and we’ll definitely have conversations when we can.

“A few of them have made some noises that they’re happy to have a chat, and see what’s happening at the club now and whether the decisions they made that were the right one at that time may not suit life now.”

Stone did concede it would be tough to retain former co-coach Tony Armstrong, whose AFL media career is continuing to progress.

“We haven’t had that, but I think it will be hard (to keep him),” Stone said. “We’re yet to finalise anything on that front.

“He’s doing really well, and the travel and timing and all that sort of stuff was starting to take its toll on life in general with his media commitments.

“There’s room for him if he wants to finish off that year that he was going to (this year).

“But, I understand totally if his media has taken a priority.”

Twitter: @tom_king79