FACING his former association Warragul in today’s division three opener is all the incentive new Central Gippsland skipper Rhys Holdsworth needs to get fired up for Melbourne Country Week.
The Trafalgar all-rounder has assumed the captaincy from Rob Phoenix, and is pumped to lead an extended rotation-based squad of 18 into battle at the representative carnival.
“I’m proud to be captaining the association, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and hopefully we can string a few wins together and win the league,” Holdsworth said.
“We’re going down there with the expectation of doing well and we’ll be trying to win it.
“We’ve got a pretty good mix with experience and a few new younger guys this year… hopefully they can stand up and see what it’s all about.”
CGCA failed to win a match last year in division four, which will not be staged this week, and the personnel changes have been wholesale.
Only Holdsworth, who cracked a ton against Shepparton in 2014, Phoenix and Jackson Noonan remain from the rubble, accompanied by a host of district stars at both ends of the experience spectrum.
Latrobe superstar Kaushik Aphale will slot into the middle order spot vacated by Moe captain Andrew Philip, with fellow Sharks Anthony Bloomfield, Mitch Cowell, Chris Johnson and Daniel Siddle also selected.
Consistent Morwell batsman Craig Giddens and Mark Cukier slot in, while Thorpdale also has two representatives in import Fraser Smith and Travis Pickering.
Mirboo North boasts five players, while the Ships have four including the returning James Blaser at the top of the order.
“He probably gets better where the standard gets better so hopefully he can peel off a few runs for us up top,” Holdsworth said.
The incoming captain, who has played at the carnival since he was 16, said Country Week cricket remained a prestigious honour for any club player.
“If you’re only going to play local cricket your whole life Country Week is a big challenge for you, (you want to) prove yourself to the other players in your team and that’s the best way to do it,” he said.
“I’ve always wanted to play against the best and if you make a hundred at Country Week you’re obviously a good player, that’s the way I look at it, you’ve got to try and challenge yourself.”
Central Gippsland will play Warragul, West Gippsland, Benalla and District and Colac during the tournament.