Daily Archives: 01/06/2018

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Holden Volt to the outback

June 1st, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

Holden VoltGM losing $49,000 on every Volt
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It’s 5.30 on a Sunday morning in the laid-back mining town of Broken Hill. I’m trying to sneak the world’s first plug-in hybrid car out of the driveway of our quaint cottage so I can take advantage of the soft morning light for photography. I’m expecting the task to be made considerably easier because the Holden Volt can drive for up to a claimed 87 kilometres on electricity alone. No noisy engines or clunky starter motors. Just a hushed electric whir as I quietly sneak down the street.

At least that was the theory. Unplugging the charging cord was the last piece of my early morning puzzle – and the thing that undid all my vigilant tippy-toeing to ensure my newborn kept sleeping.

Within seconds there was an alarm I swear my cat would have heard from 1000 kilometres away. Horns and sirens bleated with ambulance-like intensity as the Volt’s programmable ”charging-cord theft alert” – designed to stop passers-by pinching the industrial-strength customised extension plug – kicked in.

Ahh, the wonders of silent electric motoring …

Rewind two days and our journey began in Sydney, where the Volt’s 111kW electric motor and 288 lithium-ion cells can have you zipping around town on increasingly expensive (but still cheaper than petrol) electricity.

Holden labels the Volt a long-range electric car, refusing to call it a hybrid, a term Toyota unofficially owns. But the addition of a petrol engine that acts as a generator for the batteries cements its inclusion in the ”H” team.

Unlike the petrol-fuelled Prius, though, the Volt can be recharged from a household power point, allowing that claimed EV range before the engine comes into play.

The idea is to create a best-of-both-worlds car. EV around town but long-distance tourer if you want to get out of town.

So we decided to get out of town. There aren’t many places further out of town than the Australian outback. Throw in one family, a pram, travel cot, snacks for all shapes and sizes and gear to last five days and we were off. The ultimate Aussie road trip in a car with a power cord.

It seemed simple enough. Point the Volt west and head for the outback. But even reaching the start line revealed the first challenge with electric cars. Our just-landed-in-Australia Holden Volt had come straight from the media launch where it had been driving all day, so was already relying on petrol rather than electricity.

But hey, I was at least able to drive, something that can’t be said for pure electric cars. The 32.5-litre fuel tank is claimed to extend the overall driving range to about 600 kilometres, although it quickly became clear at freeway speeds the Volt doesn’t benefit as much from its regenerative braking, which transforms braking energy into electricity by turning the motor into a generator when the car is slowing.

A petrol range of between 450 kilometres and 500 kilometres seemed more likely.

Our first overnight stop gave me the chance to recharge. The Volt is claimed to be as simple to charge as a mobile phone. It’s not.

The cable is thick and cumbersome and carefully tucked under the boot floor in a package that makes packing a two-man tent into a fist-sized ball feel like a snip. It has to be unravelled and (hopefully) reach to the nearest power point. Extension cords are not recommended, which is limiting because not many hotel rooms are within five metres of the front left fender, where the charging plug goes.

An extension cord was my only option, so I weaved the bright orange and yellow cord through the carpark of the motel into my room. Holden says the Volt costs about $2.50 to charge, and a deal it’s done with infrastructure company Better Place allows the exclusive use of green electricity. But I’m going out on a limb and guessing that the $90-a-night motel I stayed in hadn’t ticked the box for renewable energy.

The next morning we were off under pure (not so green) electric power. But not before an electric-only lap of Mount Panorama – OK, so my lap took about three times longer than the sub-two-minute, 10-second times the V8 Supercars will be doing in a few weeks at the Bathurst 1000, but I also used not a drop of fuel. V8s slurp 60L/100km

After an overnight charge the colour digital instrument read-out suggested the electric-only range would be 64 kilometres, but that quickly plummeted up the steep mountain climb. After only a few kays it dropped to 39 kilometres in the crisp, three-degree air.

By the time I reached the bottom, though, the range had climbed to 44 kilometres, reinforcing the advantages of regenerative braking.

The Bathurst track revealed another niggle, though. Cruising through Forrest’s Elbow on to the straight and the front spoiler scraped the smooth bitumen. No surprises, then, that the steep dips and gutters had it scraping in country towns, as did the washouts and undulations of outback roads.

Fortunately the black plastic is flexible and designed for the odd encounter with bitumen.

After our next overnight charge the Volt suggested we’d get 66 kilometres from electricity. But on these 110km/h roads and loaded with the family and luggage (with the porky 1715-kilogram car and all the gear, we were tipping the scales at more than two tonnes) the range fizzled to about 40 kilometres.

Heading into the edge of the outback, the Volt attracted plenty of attention.

It may be new but it’s well known. An amazing cross-section of the country community is aware of the Volt and its significance as a potential game-changer.

”You won’t find any charging stations around here, mate, you’ll have to fill it up with petrol,” quipped one onlooker in a servo.

Hardened country folk I’d guessed would be more interested in the price of copper or when the local bakery opened than some newfangled vehicle were keen to chat about the technology of the car they’d read about. One almost swallowed his tongue when I casually mentioned it cost $60,000, about $20,000 more than similarly equipped mid-size cars and about $40,000 dearer than the Cruze on which it is based.

At the end of the day, that’s something that will ensure the Volt remains a niche car, albeit one with the sort of technology that could eventually go mainstream.

Even truckies hauling oversize loads across the Barrier Highway managed time to joke about super-long extension cords.

While the Volt shares its underpinnings and some components (the steering wheel the most obvious to the driver) with the Cruze small car, its futuristic styling clearly distinguishes it. Inside, too, there’s some Buck Rogers to the layout, which is dominated by an Apple-inspired white fascia with touch pads in lieu of buttons. They work well enough, although, as I learned over 2700 kilometres, it’s easy to graze one of the pads and activate something such as the satnav.

Less of an issue is the performance. The 111kW/370Nm electric motor provided decent shove from a standstill and held its speed impressively on the long stretches. Overtaking was also a snip; when flooring the throttle there’s the occasional hesitation (similar to an auto transmission before downshifting) then it picks up speed strongly, easily ambling past road trains.

It’s not perfect, though. Across the challenging Blue Mountains the batteries depleted so much that the petrol engine couldn’t charge them fast enough. The car solved the problem by reducing power to the wheels – ”propulsion power is reduced” was the warning – but it lowered performance noticeably. Steeper hills had it struggling to maintain 100km/h, and overtaking was temporarily not an option.

It wasn’t the last time I’d see that warning, although it was rare and occurred only in hilly terrain at higher speeds.

Overall, though, the Volt drove just like a regular car and made light work of the vast distance between Sydney and Broken Hill.

Which brings me back to my ill-fated, alarming (sorry …) early morning photo shoot. Heading north-west towards the semi-ghost town of Silverton and the vastness of the Mundi Mundi plains (where Mad Max 2 was filmed) I’m confident the 60-kilometre round trip will be done purely on electricity. At slower speeds (there’s a 90km/h limit here) the electric power lasts noticeably longer.

Then my all-electric mission is foiled. As the cool morning temperature drops to two degrees I hear the muted rumble of the engine fire into action as I’m greeted by a warning ”engine running due to temperature”. It’s a reminder that although the Volt can be an electric car for most of its life, it also still needs petrol sometimes.

Still, it’s an impressive feat for a car that will likely spend most of its time dealing with city traffic before being recharged overnight for another round the next day.

Not that country roads are its forte. Larger bumps can have it bucking as the suspension compresses towards its limit. Cornering ability is thoroughly respectable, though, and only when pushed does the Volt begin to lose some composure.

But this trip is only halfway over. The return journey gives me time to ponder the Volt and its place in the motoring world. Yes, it’s too expensive, but the concept is brilliant and brings genuine appeal to electric motoring.

Having the ability to travel further occasionally is a win and removes one of the major drawbacks of rechargeable cars.

Albeit with some compromises. Fuel use when the engine is running, for example, is no better than a diesel-powered car or a regular hybrid. With the big load on board, higher speeds and some challenging hills, we averaged 6.9 litres per 100 kilometres over 2700 kilometres, with about 250 of them under pure electricity.

Still, it’s goal achieved for the partially electric big Australian road trip.Logbook

Total kilometres: 2702km

Electric kilometres: 250km (approximately)

Total fuel used: 188 litres

Fuel use on test: 6.9L/100km

Price: $59,990, plus costs

Electric motor: 111kW/370Nm

Battery system: 288 cells weighing 198 kilograms

Petrol engine: (used only to recharge the batteries) 63kW 1.4-litre 4-cyl

Claimed fuel use: 1.2L/100km

Weight: 1715kg

Get clickingFor more news and reviews of the Volt go to drive南京夜网.au/volt

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Fast lane: Mild case scenario

June 1st, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

Wrong ‘thurst … punters may not warm to a mid-strength promo ale. Photo: Jenny Evans.ON THE surface it seems like the perfect cross-promotion: a beer company releasing a commemorative carton for the 50th anniversary of the Bathurst 1000. After all, we’re pretty sure the Great Race is the only sporting event on the planet where the alcohol limit is one case (yes, that’s right, 24 cans) of beer a person each day.
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But it seems that Coopers – the ”exclusive beer partner and major sponsor of V8 Supercar racing” – hasn’t really done its homework on the event’s target market.

The Bathurst pack contains 20 specially labelled cans of Coopers Mild Ale 3.5. Now, any Bathurst aficionado will tell you those numbers are all wrong. For a start, only 20 cans in a pack will mean racegoers will be four cans a day short of their legal entitlement – for the true believers, that works out to roughly 20 cans short of a good time during the course of the event.

The second – and potentially more serious – affront to racegoers’ sensibilities is the number 3.5, which denotes mid-strength beer. To borrow from Monty Python’s Bruce, mid-strength beer is like making love in a canoe – it’s effing close to water. What other sacrilege is planned for this iconic event? Next they’ll be letting those bloody Nissans race again.Mistaken identity

It seems there are very few trainspotters or car nuts in the NSW Police Force. Earlier this week, the boys in blue put out an all-points bulletin about a stolen Porsche K9. Further inquiries by the paper’s crime reporters established that this wasn’t some special-purpose German supercar designed to accommodate the dog squad, but a garden-variety Cayenne SUV.

It’s the latest in a string of mistaken identity cases involving cars. Earlier this year the police media unit mistook a Mitsubishi 380 for a Magna and before that a Mazda 323 for the later-model Mazda3.

We’re not sure if the incidents are related, but not long after the K9 fiasco, Drive received an invite to the handover of a Porsche Panamera to the police for ”community events and activities”. Stand by for a police press release on its new ”Porch Panama”.Golf clubbed

”It’s lame. It’s disappointing.” Probably not the verdict Volkswagen was looking for when it launched the new Golf small car at a glitzy event in Berlin this week. Then again, the caustic assessment of the next generation of Europe’s most popular car came from an unlikely source: Greenpeace.

The environmental activists are up in arms at the fuel consumption of the new Golf, claiming it isn’t good enough. Protesters gatecrashed the Golf launch as part of a continuing campaign against the German maker.

Last year, they produced their own Star Wars advertisement that claimed that VW had gone ”to the dark side”.

The protest must have come as a rude shock to the car maker, especially as it had just unveiled a fuel-sipping diesel version of the car that uses less fuel than that darling of the Hollywood environmentally conscious, the Toyota Prius hybrid. And a lot less than those Russian icebreakers with the helicopter on the back.Oz and them

Those decrying the level of government assistance to the Australian car industry might like to look overseas. Reports from Japan this week suggest car sales in the land of the rising sun are about to fall off the edge of a cliff this month as the latest round of buyer subsidies expire.

And just how much has the government pumped into their industry to keep it going? Only $3.7 billion. Of course, that pales into insignificance when you look at the estimated $US80 billion ($78 billion) pumped into Detroit by the US government.

Earlier this month, the US Department of the Treasury admitted that $US25 billion of that couldn’t be recouped. And there’s the little matter of the 26 per cent share in General Motors still held by the government. GM shares are trading for about $US20 – it’s estimated that they would need to be trading at $US53 for the government to break even on a sale.

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Fire check sets off alarm bells

June 1st, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

Question
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While I was moving into my new rented flat, the agent sent me an email to my work computer at 3pm advising me that he was carrying out an annual fire inspection at 7am the next day. I did not open the email until the next morning when I was back at work.

How much notice should he give, is he breaching the lease and can anything be done to stop him entering the flat on some pretext without giving proper notice?

Watchman, via the forum.

Answer

Landlords or agents are allowed to enter premises as and when required to fulfil their legal obligations for health and safety checks (such as fire checks), but they still have to give two clear days’ notice each time they plan to do so. Have a look at Tenants NSW fact sheet No.8 on privacy at tenants南京夜网.au.

If this apparently inconsiderate behaviour continues, that web page has a link to a strongly worded letter you can download, adapt and send to the agent, outlining how he has breached the Tenancies Act (and the terms of your lease) and warning that any repetition will lead to you taking him to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal for compensation.

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Buy with confidence

June 1st, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

Investigate the track record of the project team – not just the developer, but the builder and architect, too.You need to be vigilant and push emotion to one side when you buy an apartment off the plan. Critics of OTP purchasing say many projects are based on ”wedding-cake pricing”; the developer, builder and sales agent each take a cut of the profits before buyers pay artificially inflated prices that have little to do with supply and demand.
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But if you believe property will become more expensive, it could be prudent to buy into the market now. For a modest deposit, you can secure a unit scheduled for completion in 2014 at today’s prices.

Tax savings from depreciation and stamp-duty exemptions are attractive to many people, too.

Savvy OTP buyers look beyond the marketing hype and zero in on the following issues.

Who’s on the team?

Experience is a true indicator of future performance, so any buying decision has to be based on who is developing and building the complex. Check out the project team, including the developer, builder and architect. Are they reputable? Do they have proven track records?

And don’t just rely on information in the display suite or testimonials on websites. Visit completed developments and try to inspect units that are for sale or rent. Real estate data companies, such as RP Data and Australian Property Monitors, can provide reports (for less than $100) showing how often units in a building have been resold and at what price.

Research thoroughly

Be wary of developers who are new to the industry or whose earlier projects failed or experienced long delays. If you research thoroughly, you should be able to identify developers who have a track record of delivering a final product that’s noticeably different to what was proposed. Delivery is everything – up to 40 per cent of advertised apartment projects don’t go ahead, and some top-end projects are reconfigured into mass-market buildings with many more units. Also, be aware that the pitch to buy can come from a trusted financial planner or accountant, who may not disclose their commissions.

Hire a good lawyer

Pay microscopic attention to paperwork. You need a lawyer who can read the contract well, and not one recommended by the agent or developer. A lawyer can help identify A-grade developers and potential trouble spots. Developments can be delayed by planning-permit applications or a lack of finance. Some are cancelled after sales have started.

In these circumstances, a street-smart lawyer is a must-have. Be aware, too, that Victoria’s consumer affairs laws will change this year to include a new warning notice on the front page of off-the-plan contracts. Among other things, the notice will inform the buyer that the deposit is negotiable.

Weigh up the facilities

As developers strive to differentiate their products, buyers are increasingly buying extras. There’s a grab-bag of added luxuries you may or may not want, from rooftop cinemas to a concierge, pools, gyms, communal party rooms, even wine cellars. Apartments are becoming smaller in size and, although many of them are now better designed, developers are adding bells and whistles to woo buyers.

While extras can ramp up the fees paid to an owners’ corporation, investors should bear in mind that some tenants are prepared to pay more rent to live in a fancy building.

The basics still count

You can change almost anything about a property except its location, which is why location is one of the key considerations when buying. New buildings should be subjected to the same checks as established properties.Find out whether the location has generated past capital growth.

What are the prospects for future growth? There should be a healthy rental market in the area, too, as well as strong rental yield.

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Man dies after fire

June 1st, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

A man in his 70s has died after a house fire at Altona, in Melbourne’s west.
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The fire began in the kitchen of the Rose Street address. It is believed the man was cooking dinner.

The man called the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, and when firefighters arrived at 6.30pm he was found collapsed outside the front of the house apparently suffering smoke inhalation.

An Ambulance Victoria spokeswoman said the man died at the scene. Ten firefighters took minutes to bring the fire under control.

An MFB spokesman said a fire blanket had been thrown on the stove and the man had possibly tried to extinguish the flames himself. The MFB is investigating the cause of the fire. 

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BALLARAT has had a major say in Victoria being crowned Australia’s number one state in indoor bias bowls.
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Victoria featured 16 Ballarat players, plus a team manager, in the five-day tournament in Launceston.

Just two points separated Victoria from Tasmania.

The 60-strong Victoria team claimed three Australia titles on the way to overall honours for the Jack Gore Trophy – women’s pairs, women’s triples and mixed fours,

Silver medals: women’s singles, men’s triples, women’s fours.

Bronze medals: men’s pairs, men’s triples, mixed pairs, junior boys’ singles.

Ballarat’s medallists:

Women’s triples: Julie Nimmo, Heather Hopkinson (gold).

Mixed fours: Elaine Treloar, Ian Hedger (gold).

Men’s triples: Chris Price (silver).

Women’s fours: Normas Betteridge (silver).

Mixed pairs Matthew Fapper (bronze).

Men’s pairs: Wayne Pattie, David Speechley (bronze).

The Ballarat contingent also featured John Redfern, Rod Ohlsen, Gerry Flapper, Cherril Helmore, Matthew Cameron, Elizabeth Kierce and junior Jayke Clark as well as team manager Tom Clarke, and umpires Stuart Hedger and Graeme Seymour.

Back from left, Wayne Pattie, Rod Ohlsen, Chris Prince, Matthew Flapper, Matthew Cameron, John Redfern; middle, Gerry Flapper, Tom Clarke, Elizabeth Kierce, Norma Betteridge, Julie Nimmo; front, Heather Hopkinson, Elaine Treloar, Jayke Clarke, David Speechley, Ian Hedger. Absent, Cherril Helmore and Graeme Seymour.

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BALLARAT Red Devils travel to Melbourne today knowing destiny is somewhat out of their control.
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The Reds will take on Brunswick City after missing a golden opportunity to go top of Football Federation Victoria men’s state league two table last weekend.

The 3-1 defeat by leaders Moreland City leaves them third, five points adrift of the top two with just three matches to play.

Haymes Red Devils’ playing manager Brian Shelley concedes his team’s promotion chances are slim.

“Fawkner and Moreland need to lose two of their last three games,” Shelley said.

“Going on current form, that’s going to be difficult, but you never know in football. I’ve been in the game long enough to have seen stranger things happen.

“We need to forget Moreland and Fawkner and try and pick up maximum points.”

There is an injury cloud hanging over the head of striker Simon Murphy ahead of today’s fixture.

Murphy missed training during the week due to an infected knee and remains in doubt for the clash, which is catch-up from the wash-out in late July.

The Reds will also be without forward Daniel Forlandsaas, who played his final game for the club last weekend.

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STUDENTS of Ballarat Ducks and EGC are each chasing doubles in Hockey Ballarat senior premierships at Prince of Wales Park today.
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They clash in the men’s and women’s grand finals.

Neither of the men’s teams have bragging rights this season, with one win apiece in two meetings.

Ducks have been clinical in their victories during the season, but Gold are peaking at the right time.

“We have good depth at the moment,” Students of Ballarat club president Tim Baumgarten said.

“The guys are playing well as a unit.

“They’re excited about playing together in a grand final and putting on a show.”

Although Ducks have played the more consistently, Gold has unpredictability that might take the game to the wire.

In the women’s grand final, Students of Ballarat Ducks and EGC Blue meet.

Ducks found form in the semi-final by upstaging favourite EGC Gold and will look to capitalise on this momentum. EGC Blue has shown it has the playmakers to score heavily.

“This will be a tough encounter” EGC club president Jeff Sly said.

‘There isn’t too much between the two sides. Each is aggressive, skilful, and play attacking hockey. The contests around goal will be tough,” he said.

PUMAS and EGC Gold clash in the junior grand final.

Sly said each had finished the season strongly.”

“These guys are playing some of the best junior hockey in the region at the moment, so we will no doubt be treated to a skilful and energetic match.”

Sue Walton (EGC), left, Tom Davey (Students), Liam Hobbs (EGC) , finals patron Tanya Daniels, Catherine MacLean (Students) and Michael Churcher (Students) ready for battle in the all-Eureka Golden City and Students of Ballarat Ducks senior hockey grand finals.

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Test of toughness for Lady Devils

June 1st, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

ANOTHER year, another finals campaign for the Ballarat Lady Devils.
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Having again missed promotion from Football Federation Victoria women’s state league one, the Blockbuster Lady Devils shift their focus to repeating the grand final triumph of last season.

Tomorrow, the Ballarat girls take on league runners-up Altona City in the second semi-final.

Ballarat coach Rick Romein said season 2012 had been an inconsistent one, but hoped his team could get it right this weekend.

“The squad has had a great lead-up to this final and it will come down to our mental and physical toughness on game day,” Romein said.

“We’ve been unable to defeat either of the two top teams in this division this competitive season.

“It will be up to the girls if they want to continue this season and once again play off in the grand final.

“It will be interesting to see how much our girls really want to beat Altona City, and from a coaching point of view, we will be trying to set up again for next year.”

The Lady Devils have a full squad, with only Leah Wright facing a fitness test.

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Roosters may look to a star recruit

June 1st, 2018 / / categories: 南京夜网 /

NORTH Ballarat Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald says he is open to finding an experienced marquee recruit.
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The Selkirk Roosters finished ninth this season on percentage, missing their first Victorian Football League finals series since 2003.

Player reviews at Eureka Stadium start next week when the Roosters can begin to sort out the shape of their roster.

FitzGerald said finding the right kind of experienced player to help development was always a consideration.

In past seasons, former AFL players have complemented the Roosters – including Essendon’s Peter Somerville, Geelong’s Garry Hocking and Richmond’s Tom Roach, who each arrived with valuable experience.

“It’s something we’ll look at. I don’t want to close off any options but I’m still keen to stay true to our method of promoting within the club, given we’re developing again,” FitzGerald said.

“All my colleagues in Ballarat state level sports will agree its much harder to attract ex-AFL or high quality players to Ballarat when so many are based in Melbourne.

“…You could probably could find some examples of those who certainly did not work but because it has in the past, I remain open to the possibility.”

What could work in the Roosters’ favour is a Melbourne training base at Arden Street, home of their aligned AFL club North Melbourne.

Melbourne-based Roosters Myles Sewell and Oliver Tate are among those who train with the Kangaroos’ Roosters-listed players.

FitzGerald said there were a lot of positives for the playing list closer to home.

Gerard FitzGerald

Defender Oliver Tate (hips) and premiership midfielder Nick Peters (quadriceps) were on the long-term injury list this season.

Peters played in the Roosters’ season opener against Werribee in March and struggled to return on field while Tate played five games late in the season with the Roosters’ development team.

FitzGerald said if the club worked carefully to get both fully fit for next season, it would be like adding two quality recruits.

A close partnership to help develop North Melbourne’s youngsters should also start to show.

Defender Brad McKenzie and ruckman Ben Mabon have started to emerge as solid players while Kangaroos’ key forward prospect Tom Curran will be a strong-bodied inclusion.

Curran has been sidelined this year with an ongoing foot injury.

FitzGerald said is was important to dissect this season first before plotting how best to work back into the VFL’s top eight.

The Roosters were in unfamiliar territory by round five, on the ladder bottom with one win and five losses.

They turned form around in a strong second half to the season by winning six of their last nine matches, finishing with a one-point win against reigning premier Port Melbourne.

Roosters captain Marc Greig is the only confirmed departure, retiring at the season’s end.

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