JUST five players from last year’s triumphant Ballarat Football League interleague side will play in Saturday’s crucial match against the Goulburn Valley Football League.
The final 26-man squad was announced last night for the BFL’s AFL Victoria Country Championships clash, and is one of the youngest and most inexperienced squads for some time.
Coach Shane Skontra has drawn on the flexibility of the players chosen as his side’s biggest strength, but did not hide from the fact his side was extremely young.
“I think we only have five players that played last year, so it’s a totally different team,” Skontra said. “There’s an influx of youth but that’s a good thing I reckon. Because of the dynamics of the ground and the opposition, it will allow us to be very competitive.
“Flexibility is our biggest strength. Just about all players can play two, three or four positions and we can throw all players into a certain mix and still get the result.”
Of the 26 players named in the squad (including development players Hayden Riley and Josh Bromley-Lynch), 11 players are new to the BFL this year, either playing in the league for the first time, or returning from seasons away.
Some of the league’s biggest names, most notably 2013 captain Jason McNamara, will be out of action, with the North Ballarat City captain hampered by injury in the preparation.
Skontra admitted his side would most likely be viewed as underdogs, but said the internal feeling was that it went in with a 50-50 chance.
“We’re not trying to play down our chances, but we will go in underdogs. But there’s been plenty of times in footy when a side not quite as credentialed has come out and won,” he said.
For BFL captain Brendan Peace, leading such an esteemed side to victory would top off a bright career that has included Redan’s premiership glory. “On a personal level, I’ve never really captained a side before, so I guess there’s that level where I’m keen to try and put my best foot forward and hopefully get a win,” he said.
The match will be held in Shepparton on Saturday, May 24.
26-man squad (plus two development players)
Ballarat: Lachlan Cassidy, Sam Conroy, Adam Sewell, Liam Youl
Darley: Shane Page, Rhys Ellis, Steve Kennedy
East Point: Hayden Walters, Brad Whittaker, Paul Kodorenko, Jonathon Lanyon
Lake Wendouree: Angus Kirby
Melton: Brad Murphy
Melton South: Reece Miles
North Ballarat City: Marcus Darmody, Ryan Hobbs, Jarryd Graham, Simon McCartin, Derick Micallef, Josh Bromley-lynch (development)
Redan: Chris Giampaolo, Brendan Peace (captain), Callum Currie, Brenton Riordan, Hayden Riley (development)
Sebastopol: Michael Powell
Sunbury: David Kovacevic, Andrew Duhau