ARARAT has secured the services of an AFL premiership star for its annual Good Friday clash against Stawell.
Dale Thomas will step out for the Rats in the massive clash, which also serves as the Wimmera Football League season opener.
The All-Australian will bring over 200 games of AFL experience with Collingwood and Carlton to the club.
It was the Rats' connection with Carlton that saw Thomas sign on for the marquee appearance.
Carlton picked up Ararat junior Tom Williamson in the 2016 national draft.
Ararat club president David Hosking was hopeful Thomas will pass on his knowledge of the game to a young Rats list.
"Dale was Tom's mentor when he went to Carlton so we're really lucky to have that connection through to the Carlton Football Club," club president David Hosking said.
"There's no doubt the boys will learn a things playing along side Dale and enjoy the experience.
"Purely from a commercial aspect we believe we can do really well out of the day and hopefully a large crowd comes along to support both teams."
It's not the first time Ararat has been boosted by a big-name marquee player.
Former St Kilda star Leigh Montagna joined the club for its season opener in 2018.
It was a one-off match for Montagna, with a family connection to the club helping form the agreement.
"The opportunity presented itself again this year so we took advantage of the connections we have," Hosking said.
"Extra spectators and supporters means extra money through the gate, canteen and everywhere else.
"Dale will also participate in a sportsman night after the game as well."
Hosking said crowds attending the Good Friday games were growing each year, which was "pleasing" to see at a country level.
"When I played we played Ararat and Stawell games on a Sunday so those from the Horsham District league could come and watch," he said.
"Over the years it has probably dropped away and our Stawell games are the same as some of the other games.
"The people who came up with this Good Friday concept - all credit to them. It's a great idea to take advantage of the crowds that are in the region over the Easter period.
"I'm hopeful that people who do come along enjoy themselves and maybe decide to come back to another game during the season or even buy a membership."
Hosking said though he was not aware of the process an opportunity presents itself to clubs to look at hosting high-profile netballers for marquee games.
"It would be something clubs could certainly look at," he said.
"If you aren't going to involve the women in this sort of decision then you are excluding 50 per cent of the population.
"Getting former AFL footballers to the Rats has been opportunistic when it's been presented.
"I don't know the availability of a (netball) player to come up and play. It's an unknown but someone should try it."
Thomas and Ararat will take on Stawell in the opening game of the Wimmera Football League season on Friday April 10.