Eight Murray Bushrangers will have the chance to impress state selectors tonight when they line up for Victoria Country in a trial match against Northern Territory.DAMEN FRANCIS April 18, 2014 3:15am
There is something in the water in Benalla.
Of eight Murray Bushrangers named in an extended Victoria Country state squad for a trial match against Northern Territory tonight, four hail from Benalla and play for the local Goulburn Valley Football League club.
Bushrangers captain Nick Mellington, vice-captain Caleb Marchbank, David Mennen and Brody Webster have the chance to impress selectors for the AFL Under-18 National Championships.
In recent years the town has produced the likes of Brisbane Lions star Tom Rockliff and ex-Bushrangers captain Sam Martyn, who is plying his trade in the VFL this season.
Saints coach Luke Morgan couldn’t put his finger on why the town was able to produce so many talented players.
‘‘We’ve got a big district that draws a few more players than other clubs, but otherwise I’m not sure,’’ Morgan said.
‘‘The football club is a huge part of this town, so that’s maybe got something to do with it and it is a passionate football community, but not more so than Kyabram or Tatura.
‘‘The junior football system is well run, but a lot of the time it comes down to the individual and not so much the area they come from.’’
Marchbank is yet to play a game this season, having suffered a torn tendon in his shoulder in pre-season, and remains a doubt to play.
Mellington and Mennen have long been under consideration, but Webster has forced his way into the squad with a strong start to the year.
A small key forward, Webster has taken 24 marks in his first three TAC Cup games this season and was in the best in last week’s win against the Rebels.
Rockliff’s cousin Harry Morrison has also been selected in the Victoria Country under-16 side.
Morgan said Morrison, a tall, marking midfielder, would make his under-18 debut for the Saints this weekend.
Bushrangers coach Darren Ogier said it was no secret Benalla had had a good run in recent seasons.
‘‘These boys have just got something in the gene pool that they’re very lucky to have and they’re certainly keen to make the most of it,’’ Ogier said.
‘‘To have them all in the one age group is a luxury and something you can’t take for granted.
‘‘It’s certainly a bonus for the local area and at some stage they will no doubt have an impact in the GVFL.’’
Mooroopna has two representatives in the squad in Nathan Drummond and rangy ruckman Alex Tattersall.
Drummond will be vying for one of two 19-year-old spots in any given game at the nationals.
Should he play, it will be his third national championships, having also appeared last year and as a bottom age played in 2012.
Others in the squad are Kyabram’s Tom Holman and Seymour’s Josh Schache, as well as Rennie’s Dan Howe and Wangaratta’s Jackson Clarke.
More than 50 players are in the initial squad, with players from the Bushrangers, North Ballarat Rebels and Bendigo Pioneers programs playing against Northern Territory, while those from Dandenong Stingrays, Geelong Falcons and Gippsland Power take on NSW.
Great time had at this year's Barmah Muster.
The Mulwala Lions had satisfying and hard fought win, in difficult conditions, against last year’s grand finalists at Lonsdale Reserve on Saturday.
The second annual Bonnie and Clyde Rods, Rats and Rides Festival fired up at Tatura Park at the weekend (April 11-12), drawing thousands of petrol heads and rockabilly music lovers to Tatura.
Friday’s annual primary inter-school cross country meet will see a broader variety of students taking part, as well as the introduction of a new finish line.
Lockington Vintage Tractor and Stationary Engine Rally is on for the 18th time this weekend and there is something for everyone.
Kyabram and District Sportstar of the Year nominations finalised
Three local clubs get together at Kings Park.
Tributes flow for Finley's inspiring mother, friend and farming advocate Jennifer Hawkins
A visit by Coliban Water to Heathcote last week provided residents with a chance to quiz staff about water and sewer services.
A new book, Men from the River Bends, honours Cobram-Barooga and district soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice after enlisting in World War 1.
Deniliquin bowler Dennis O'Keefe lost 25-19 in his bid for a quarter-final spot in the Victorian Singles Championships this week.
Widespread rain late last week and on Saturday put a smile on the faces of farmers preparing to sow crops or waiting for weeds to emerge on early-sown rye-grass.
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