The final 37-player Vic Country squad to compete in the 2019 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships – commencing this Saturday – has been announced.
There are representatives in the squad from all six NAB League Boys clubs based in country Victoria – Bendigo Pioneers, Dandenong Stingrays, Geelong Falcons, Gippsland Power, Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels and Murray Bushrangers.
* See the full Vic Country squad for the 2019 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships further down the page.
Gippsland’s Caleb Serong and Murray’s Lachlan Ash have been named Vic Country’s co-captains, with Cooper Stephens (Geelong) and Hayden Young (Dandenong) appointed as vice-captains.
The four leaders are among 32 top-age prospects in the squad, while there are five bottom-age players in the group – Tanner Bruhn (Geelong), Oliver Henry (Geelong), Elijah Hollands (Murray), Josh Treacy (Bendigo) and Henry Walsh (Geelong).
Five squad members represented an Under-18 Australian team that defeated the VFL’s Casey Demons in April – Serong, Ash, Young, Brodie Kemp (Bendigo) and Sam Flanders (Gippsland) – while Henry, Hollands and Walsh last month played for an Under-17 Australian team in a win against the New Zealand Falcons.
Seven of this year’s Vic Country players were also selected in the 2018 Country squad: Serong, Ash, Stephens, Young, Kemp, Flanders and Brock Smith (Gippsland).
That squad contained 15 players who later made it onto AFL lists for 2019, including first-round NAB AFL Draft picks Sam Walsh (pick no.1 from Geelong Falcons to Carlton), Jye Caldwell (no.11 from Bendigo Pioneers to GWS), Ned McHenry (no.16 from Geelong Falcons to Adelaide) and Xavier Duursma (no.18 from Gippsland Power to Port Adelaide).
Vic Country will this year be under the guidance of Coaching Director and Head Coach Leigh Brown – former Gippsland head coach and ex-AFL player with Fremantle, North Melbourne and Collingwood – with Brown’s panel of assistants containing midfield coach Marc Greig (also GWV head coach), forwards coach Rick Coburn (also Bendigo head coach) and backs coach David Wojcinski (former Geelong AFL premiership player).
The team commences its Under-18 Championships campaign on Saturday against Vic Metro at the MCG, before clashes with the Allies (in Launceston on Sunday June 9), South Australia (at GMHBA Stadium on Friday June 28) and Western Australia (at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday July 3).
Brown said the new NAB AFL Academy ‘hub’ structure meant thirty highly-rated players from the Victorian country-based NAB League Boys clubs were able to build important connections earlier than in previous Vic Country programs.
“Our contact with the 30 players in the hub in particular has been really important and it’s been great for those guys to spend a lot of time together,” Brown said. “Our first hub camp was in Melbourne in December and the second was in Ballarat in January, when historically our first camp has been in April.
“Building camaraderie within the group has previously been a challenge, and while Country boys are usually really good at that, having the extra two camps has been fantastic.
“We want to keep developing the boys and maximise their individual potential, but part of that is piecing it all together as a team and being competitive on the field.”
* WATCH VIC COUNTRY vs VIC METRO LIVE ON FOX FOOTY FROM 10.30am SATURDAY OR VIA THE AFL LIVE PASS APP.
2019 UNDER-18 VIC COUNTRY SQUAD
|NO.||NAME||DOB||HT||WT||NAB LEAGUE CLUB||LOCAL CLUB/SCHOOL|
|1||Ned||Cahill||11-Jan-01||178||77||Dandenong Stingrays||Mount Eliza/Padua College|
|2||Caleb||Serong||09-Feb-01||178||83||Gippsland Power||Warragul/Geelong Grammar|
|3||Cody||Weightman||15-Jan-01||177||73||Dandenong Stingrays||Beaconsfield/Haileybury College|
|4||Sam||Flanders||24-Jul-01||182||81||Gippsland Power||Moe/Lowanna College|
|5||Cameron||Wild||28-Nov-01||184||80||Murray Bushrangers||Shepparton/Notre Dame College|
|6||Riley||Baldi||20-Feb-01||178||74||Gippsland Power||Moe/Lowanna College|
|7||Mitch||Martin||26-Mar-01||182||78||GWV Rebels||Horsham Saints|
|8||Thomson||Dow||16-Oct-01||183||72||Bendigo Pioneers||Swan Hill/Geelong Grammar|
|9||Isaac||Wareham||24-Dec-01||185||80||GWV Rebels||Terang-Mortlake/St Patrick’s College|
|10||Harrison||Pepper||09-Aug-01||180||83||Gippsland Power||Morwell/Lowanna College|
|12||Lachlan||Ash||21-Jun-01||186||80||Murray Bushrangers||Shepparton/Notre Dame College|
|13||Jay||Rantall||10-Jun-01||184||82||GWV Rebels||South Warrnambool/Warrnambool College|
|14||Liam||Herbert||01-Mar-01||183||73||GWV Rebels||South Warrnambool|
|15||Ryan||Sparkes||13-Apr-01||184||78||Gippsland Power||Inverloch-Kongwak/Wonthaggi SC|
|16||Brodie||Kemp||01-May-01||192||82||Bendigo Pioneers||Echuca/Geelong Grammar|
|17||Hayden||Young||11-Apr-01||188||82||Dandenong Stingrays||Somerville/Mornington SC|
|18||Brady||Rowles||11-Feb-01||186||72||Bendigo Pioneers||Mildura/Bendigo Senior Secondary|
|19||Fraser||Phillips||15-May-01||186||71||Gippsland Power||Warragul/St Paul’s Anglican Grammar School|
|20||Elijah||Hollands||25-Apr-02||188||80||Murray Bushrangers||Wodonga Bulldogs/Caulfield Grammar|
|22||Darcy||Chirgwin||25-Jul-01||191||80||Sandringham Dragons||St Mary’s/Melbourne Grammar|
|24||Brock||Smith||13-Mar-01||188||81||Gippsland Power||Moe/Lowanna College|
|25||Flynn||Perez||25-Aug-01||187||82||Bendigo Pioneers||Sandhurst/Catherine McAuley College|
|26||Jesse||Clark||23-Feb-01||188||79||Geelong Falcons||St Joseph’s/St Joseph’s College|
|27||Oliver||Henry||29-Jul-02||186||72||Geelong Falcons||St Mary’s/St Joseph’s College|
|29||Lachlan||Williams||12-Sep-01||182||76||Dandenong Stingrays||Mount Eliza/Mornington SC|
|32||Ben||Worme||18-Jun-01||188||72||Bendigo Pioneers||Sandhurst/Catherine McAuley College|
|33||Josh||Treacy||04-Aug-02||192||88||Bendigo Pioneers||Cohuna/Cohuna SC|
|34||Bigoa||Nyuon||18-May-01||196||86||Dandenong Stingrays||Rowville/Rowville SC|
|35||Toby||Mahony||18-Aug-01||193||77||GWV Rebels||Camperdown/Mercy Regional College|
|36||Sam||De Koning||26-Feb-01||200||85||Dandenong Stingrays||Mornington|
|37||Blake||Kuipers||21-Aug-01||196||81||Dandenong Stingrays||Rosebud/Rosebud SC|
|38||Henry||Walsh||27-Jun-02||201||84||Geelong Falcons||St Joseph’s/St Joseph’s College|
|39||Josh||Smith||20-May-01||194||100||Gippsland Power||Koo Wee Rup|
|40||Charlie||Comben||20-Jul-01||199||82||Gippsland Power||Sale/Catholic College Sale|
|41||Tanner||Bruhn||27-May-02||182||73||Geelong Falcons||Newtown & Chilwell/Geelong Grammar|