Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Young Bushrangers to pull on Victoria Country jumper

Six of Murray Bushrangers' rising young stars have been selected to represent Victoria Country at the AFL Under-16 Championships next month.

DAMEN FRANCIS June 13, 2014 3:05am

Ned Nihill is among six Murray Bushrangers named in Victoria Country’s under-16 team.

Six Murray Bushrangers have been selected in the Victoria Country under-16 team.

Mooroopna’s Jy Simpkin, Shepp Notre’s Will Brodie, Nathalia’s Ned Nihill, Mansfield’s Tom Gardiner, Seymour’s Lachlan Waite and Albury’s Jake Page will attend the AFL Under-16 Championships on the Gold Coast next month.

Bushrangers under-16s coach Justin McMahon is an assistant coach for Vic Country and was happy to see so many of the next crop of TAC Cup prospects getting the opportunity for national exposure.

‘‘We have very good representation among the six (country) regions,’’ McMahon said.

‘‘The (Bushrangers) team is going well and the boys are performing well. We had 10 or 11 in the squad and for six to make the final team is a good effort.’’

Players were identified during the recent Victoria Country Championships and a 50-strong squad was whittled down over four trial games and training and testing sessions.

Simpkin is a highly-rated on-baller, whose pace and skill were on show when he had more than 20 possessions and kicked three goals on his senior Goulburn Valley Football League debut last month.

Brodie is a talented inside midfielder who has the ability to win his own football, distribute effectively and kick goals when up forward.

Coming off a restricted pre-season, Brodie’s form has progressed each week, which has included some good form in recent trial matches.

Gardiner has pace to burn and a knack of finding the football.

He can play forward, back or through the middle of the ground and has improved markedly during the past six months.

Waite is a key position player blessed with strong hands and an ability to kick big goals, as well as an impressive work ethic.

Nihill is a tall athletic key defender, who has the ability to move forward or play in the ruck and Page is a strong running player, who can provide drive off half-back, half-forward or through the middle of the ground.

Wodonga’s Mason Marr was named an emergency.

Doug Crawford (Mansfield), George Haynes (Wodonga), Isaac Wallace (Wodonga) and Harry Morrison (Benalla) were also part of the squad and will continue to train with the Bushrangers’ TAC Cup squad ahead of next year’s pre-season.

McMahon said the selection process had been challenging and preparation for the national carnival would be just as hectic.

‘‘Vic Country selectors were represented at every country championships game and they had vision of the games to go through, so it was pretty thorough and they had a pretty good idea before the 50-man squad was picked,’’ he said.

‘‘Our preparation is a bit hampered by distance, so when we get together it’s quite full on and we go through a lot in a short period of time and try and get some structures into place.’’

Vic Country has a final trial game against Victoria Metro in two weeks, with its opening game on July 6.

Bushrangers high performance manager Matt Glossop will co-ordinate Vic Country’s fitness program during the carnival.

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