ARARAT - Talented footballer Tom Taurau from the Ararat Eagles made a strong impression in his debut with the North Ballarat Rebels in the TAC Cup under-18 competition last Saturday.
Taurau was one of only two multiple goal scorers for the Rebels in the team's 20-point victory over the Gippsland Power.
The 17-year-old was called up to the side as the 23rd man, a rule that extends a team's bench to five players and gives junior footballers a chance to experience the under-18 competition.
While the 23rd man can only play 40 per cent of the game, North Ballarat Rebels' talent manager Phil Partington said Taurau certainly made the most of his time in the match.
"We were very pleased with Tom's performance playing as the 23rd man, he really made an impression as soon as he got on the ground," he said.
"He was a little nervous as is expected, some boys take a while to get going, but Tom was really lively around the football and managed to finish with two goals."
Taurau said Partington called him on Thursday morning to let him know he'd been selected.
"I felt pretty good when I found out," he said.
"When I got on the ground the main difference I noticed was the ball movement was a lot quicker and just the intensity was much higher.
"At this stage the goal is just to get a bit more experience where I can and get a feel for things. Now that I have (broken into the team), hopefully I can hold my spot for a few games at least."
Taurau, who won the Ararat Eagles' senior best and fairest in 2013, was rewarded for his efforts at Rebles' training over the summer along with a series of impressive performances in the Mininera and District Football League this season.
The Rebels trailed early in the clash with the Power, before a four goal to one second term saw them hit the lead and despite being held goalless in the final term the team held on for a comfortable win, 9.19 (73) to 7.11 (53).
Partington said Taurau's run and strong marking ability in the forward line was a highlight.
"I think from what we saw on the weekend he is likely to hold his spot again this week," he said.
"We always like to give boys plenty of opportunity, the first game is an eye opener and after that they are able to settle in.
"It was great to see Tommy's family there and a good supporter base from the Ararat Eagles too."
The Rebels will look to make it four consecutive wins when they host the Sandringham Dragons at Ballarat's Eureka Stadium tomorrow afternoon.