Vic Country shapes up for NAB AFL Champs
A supremely talented Victoria Country squad will travel to Darwin this weekend to tackle Northern Territory in Round 1 of the NAB AFL U18 Championships.
Eleven players from the Geelong Falcons and 10 from the Gippsland Power are in the final squad of 40 players, and are likely to lead Vic Country’s charge in the Top End.
The squad boasts several members of the AIS-AFL Academy, with classy Falcons on-ballers Lewis Taylor and James Tsitas, and Dandenong Southern Stingrays speedster Billy Hartung, likely to play crucial roles in Vic Country’s engine room.
The trio are likely to be rested from the Northern Territory clash to give some of the squad’s younger and less experienced players a chance to shine at the national level.
Murray Bushrangers clearance king Nick Holman and Bendigo Pioneers inside-midfielder Jake Maher are likely to benefit from the absence of some of the more high-profile names, while Zachary Merrett (Sandringham Dragons) will line-up thanks to his Cobden origins.
North Ballarat Rebels tough-nut Matt Crouch has a broken hand and will miss the opening matches of the Championships but remains a chance to line-up in the Division One encounters, which begin in mid June.
Fellow AIS-AFL Academy members Dallas Willsmore (Rebels) Hugh Goddard (Falcons) could join forces in a forward line brimming with talent.
Vic Country’s forward setup will also benefit from the services of Power gun Josh Scott and Stingrays live-wire Clay McCartney.
Scott sits at the top of the TAC Cup goalkickers list with 26 majors from six matches so far this season, while McCartney (14) has also proved a difficult match-up for opposition defenders.
Other players to watch include Bushrangers excitement machine Jarman Impey, Power big man Jack Leslie and elusive Pioneers runner Isaiah Miller.
The squad also contains plenty of key position talent with Falcons defenders Jye Cross and Fraser Fort, tipped to join teammate and AIS Academy member Darcy Gardiner in the key position posts.
Vic Country Academy High Performance Manager Leon Harris said the squad would need to be at its best to produce results.
“It’s a talented squad, there is no doubting that,” Harris said.
“But they have proved nothing until they can play well against quality opposition.”
Vic Country will play five games in total over six weeks, with their next match following the Northern Territory clash, scheduled for Saturday June 9 at Visy Park against Tasmania – see full fixture below.
Vic Country Fixture:
Rd 1 vs Northern Territory Saturday May 25, 4pm
Rd 2 vs Tasmania, Sunday June 9, 2:30pm
Rd 3 vs South Australia, Sunday June 16, 12pm
Rd 4 vs Western Australia, Friday June 28, 12:35pm
Rd 5 vs Vic Metro, Wednesday July 3, 5:35pm