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Sport Ballarat product back for 100th AFL game

09:12  10 july  2021
09:12  10 july  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

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GWS's recent relocation has not advanced Jacob Hopper's contract talks but it has shifted celebrations for his 100th AFL match to the familiar surrounds of Ballarat.

a crowd of people watching a football game: Jacob Hopper will make a proud return to Ballarat when he runs out for GWS against Gold Coast. © Rob Prezioso/AAP PHOTOS Jacob Hopper will make a proud return to Ballarat when he runs out for GWS against Gold Coast.

Josh Kelly's future has attracted intense interest throughout the year but Hopper, a vital cog in the Giants' midfield, is also out of contract at season's end.

Hopper lacks Kelly's profile and price tag but is highly rated at GWS, as evidenced by this season's elevation to their leadership group.

The 24-year-old is yet to sign a new deal, noting the ongoing stint living out of a suitcase in Melbourne has meant giving the matter even less thought than usual.

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"It has definitely shifted the focus elsewhere, when you don't have as much of your own time on your hands," Hopper said on the eve of his side's clash with Gold Coast.

"Myself, the club and everyone else involved are super happy with where it's at.

"I love playing footy for the club. I just want to make sure we keep winning games and put ourselves in a position to play finals."

The Giants are confident they will retain the academy product, whom coach Leon Cameron described as "developing really nicely as a leader" ahead of his most significant milestone yet.


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Hopper grew up in the Riverina town of Leeton but completed school as a boarder at St Patrick's College in Ballarat.

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The quirks of fixturing in the COVID-19 era have led to Hopper playing his first AFL game at Mars Stadium.

The venue was Hopper's home ground during the TAC Cup, although that was prior to its redevelopment that included realigning the oval orientation to meet AFL standards.

"They did it up a little bit to try and protect it against the elements," he said.

"I don't know if you could ever fully protect yourself from the elements in Ballarat.

"I remember it once snowed on the Friday we were at school ... the snow was kind of swept to the fence line (on Saturday). I was like 'OK, no joke, this is a cold place'.

"It'll be cool to get back and see a few of the differences."

Hopper added "Ballarat holds a really special place in my heart", praising the mentorship of Phil Partington, David Loader and Howard Clark during his under-18 days.

"There's some people I'd love to get there, who I haven't seen for a long time," the on-baller said.

"It'll be a bit of a trip down memory lane."

Captain Coniglio back for GWS in AFL derby .
GWS skipper Stephen Coniglio will play his first AFL match since round three when the Giants take on New South Wales rivals Sydney in Ballarat.The 27-year-old midfielder had 35 disposals and seven tackles in his second game back at VFL level last week, following a long absence with an ankle injury.

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