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A new nest for Magpie champ

Thursday, 12th May, 2011

NEW BEGINNINGS: Ben Perkins in full flight during his debut game for Merbein. The big forward has booted 23 goals for his new club, and has been selected for the Sunraysia combined squad. NEW BEGINNINGS: Ben Perkins in full flight during his debut game for Merbein. The big forward has booted 23 goals for his new club, and has been selected for the Sunraysia combined squad.

Ben Perkins may have left Central but he's still a Magpie, and he's still kicking bags of goals.

The ex-local relocated to Sunraysia in January and has been making a mark up forward for the Merbein Magpies in the Sunraysia Football and Netball League.

The 31-year-old found his way to his new club via former opponent and current Merbein coach Matt Walder, with the pair making contact after Perkins finished playing with Central in 2010.

"I'd played against him in Wagga we trained together for the NSW Country team. I got to know him a bit and heard he was looking to come down Sunraysia way," said Walder.

"I think his only real connection in the area was myself... so we got in touch and away we went."

Perkins made an immediate impact for Merbein when they faced Mildura at Kenny Park in round one, booting nine goals to drive his new club to a 15-point win.

While Perkins' goal scoring ability is an obvious benefit, Merbein coach Matt Walder said the big forward's physical presence had also been a major boost for his young side.

"Merbein have struggled for a few years and I've only just come on board myself, and we're just trying to get things going in the right direction for the future," he said.

"We've got a lot of young blokes, a pretty young list and we were looking at mature age recruits, and the more Ben Perkins' we can get the better."

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Perkin's transition to his new club has been his ability to maintain his form in the face of massive defeats.

Merbein have been thrashed in the three games that followed the Round One victory, yet Perkins still has 23 goals to his name and has never kicked less than three in a match. 

"He's looked dangerous every time we've played, even when we've been comprehensively beaten he's still won his position," said Walder.

"He's been more than serviceable... We've just got to work hard to get the supply down to him more often."

Perkins said Merbein had welcomed him into their ranks, and he likened the club's style to that of Central's.

"I'm enjoying it at the club, there's some great people around the place.

"They're really similar to Central actually, it's a good family club and they've been really good and made me feel welcome."

Perkins described Merbein's start to the season as "up and down", but predicted the club would improve as its young list matures.

As for his own form, he said he was simply happy to be playing football again at a higher level.

"It hasn't been too bad, I've had a good preseason so my fitness is better than it has been for the last few years.

"It's just good to be playing at this level again, it's very similar to the Wagga competition.

"There's some very handy players in these sides and it's good to have a run around against them."

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