Gippsland League senior interleague selectors have rewarded commitment and quality in their initial squad for this year’s AFL Victoria Community Championships campaign.
Gippsland takes on Bendigo at Warragul’s Western Park on 21 May with sights firmly set on ending a run of three losses against the same opponent in the space of seven years.
The 40-man squad features 14 names from the side that defeated Yarra Valley by 71 points at Drouin last year, including AFL Victoria Country medallist Daniel Nicholls and AFL Victoria Country One representatives Bob McCallum and Mark Collison.
All 10 clubs are represented in the initial squad, with last year’s grand finalists Leongatha and Traralgon leading the way with eight inclusions each.
Senior interleague coach Steve Hazelman said his selection committee was fortunate to have a solid base of players to choose from for such an important game.
“With not a lot of exits from our league this year and the introduction of some really high quality players into the league we are very happy with our initial squad,” Hazelman said.
“We see this as a great opportunity for us to beat Bendigo and we encourage everyone in the Gippsland region to come and support our boys and watch a great game of footy.”
In addition to the 40-man squad, selectors invited six of the competition’s most promising under-19 players to train with the squad.
With Bendigo opting not to bring an underage team this year, the opportunity to train with the senior squad offers invaluable experience for future representative players.
The first of four training sessions will be held at Traralgon Recreation Reserve on Wednesday, 4 May, with the final squad to be announced by 17 May.
A final training session and jumper presentation will take place on Thursday, 19 May.
Gippsland League interleague squad: Tom Hams (Bairnsdale), Daniel Nicholls, Ben Hughes, Todd Beck, Bob McCallum (Drouin), Aaron Hillberg, Tom Marriott, Chris Dunne, Luke Bowman, Chris Verboon, Dale Houghton, Shem Hawking, Zac Vernon (Leongatha), Sam Pleming, Daniel Bedggood (Maffra), Tom Long, James Blaser (Moe), Tim Ryan, Joel Soutar (Morwell), Kane Martin, Jack Lipman, John Gooch, Andrew Quirk (Sale), Mark Collison, Michael Stockdale, Matt Northe, Tim Northe, Adrian Slottje, Ben Amberg, Danny Campbell, Jake Vucenovic (Traralgon), Brayden Fowler, Nathe Paredes, Matt Rennie, Brad Scalzo (Warragul), Byron Dryden, Aiden Lindsay, Shannon Bray, Dom O’Connor, Braeden McLean (Wonthaggi Power)
Train-on players: Dylan Proctor (Warragul), Tyler Hillier (Morwell), Ben Dessent, Lachie Ronchi (Sale), Darnell Grech (Moe), Jackson McMahon (Traralgon)