Wangaratta Rovers' defender Nathan Cooper has signed with Richmond VFL.
Some players prefer to avoid AFL-aligned clubs, believing they will get more opportunities, but the 22-year-old is the opposite.
"I thought AFL-wise, the level of coaching around the club I'd learn the most about my footy," he said.
"There will be opportunities, like the intraclub matches, and being under the AFL recruiters the whole pre-season so they can see how I train, how I conduct myself and how I play my footy week in, week out."
I've got a lot to learn in regards to coming from only three years as a defender.- Nathan Cooper
Cooper starred in his debut year with Rovers, finishing runner-up to veteran Sam Carpenter in the best and fairest.
But, more importantly, he consistently showed an ability to perform at a higher level.
"I've got a lot to learn in regards to coming from only three years as a defender," he said.
"The first two years I was under playing coaches at Sydney Uni, so it's harder to get as much time directed towards me and then last season with 'Crezza' (Rovers' coach Daryn Cresswell) I was training in Sydney.
"I'm looking forward to having a high-quality defensive coach all the time and work on all the nuances of the game, like position and body work."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Cooper will move to Melbourne around New Year, but the O and M might not have seen the last of him as he's nominated Rovers as his second club.
"I always had the intention to do that as I loved last season," he said.
Interestingly, the VFL premiers have the second round bye over Easter.
Rovers face Myrtleford and given the Cresswell-coached club just missed finals, the presence of Cooper could prove the difference. Of course, Richmond would have to allow him to play.