Werribee has snared one of the VFL’s big names as its first new recruit of the off-season, signing small forward Andrew Hooper from North Ballarat.
The one-time Western Bulldog will make the journey east to Avalon Airport Oval for Werribee’s first campaign as a standalone VFL outfit in 19 years after it was announced in September that the Roosters would be stripped of their VFL licence for the 2018 season.
The 26-year-old said he was thrilled to be given the opportunity to continue his VFL career at Werribee after what had been a difficult few months following the announcement.
“It’s very exciting to sign with Werribee for next year,” he said.
“What happened with the Roosters was something that probably shouldn’t have happened, but these things happen for a reason.
“I’m really looking forward to my next adventure at Werribee in 2018 and being with a new group and not being aligned with an AFL club. It’s an exciting time for Werribee and an exciting time for me.”
Hooper brings valuable experience to Werribee’s young list, having played seven AFL games while in the Bulldogs’ system from 2010 to 2012.
His decorated VFL career includes 94 games and 156 goals with the Roosters and Williamstown as well as VFL Team of the Year and State Team honours in 2015 and 2017 respectively, and he also spent two seasons playing with Glenelg in the SANFL.
What he lacks in the height, the 172cm forward makes up for in his attack on the football, tackling pressure, and canny game sense, his four-goal haul in Werribee’s nail-biting victory over the Roosters in round six this year showcasing him at his damaging best.
Hooper has also been part of the Roosters leadership group, and Werribee senior coach John Lamont said his natural leadership qualities would be a big asset to the club’s young playing list.
“‘Hoops’ was really keen to stay and play the best footy he could in the VFL, and we need leadership and guys who have got a bit of know-how, so we think he can be a really good fit for us,” said Lamont.
“He’s studying primary school teaching and next year is his last year of it, so he’s just at the stage of his career where we think he can provide tremendous leadership to our playing group as we embark on this new era.”
Werribee players officially announced for 2018
Michael Sodomaco (C)