Experienced interleague coach Jason Wells is keen to see what his latest crop of future stars can do on the big stage.
Handed the Goulburn Valley League under-18 whiteboard yet again this season, Wells has seen plenty of the competition’s best players blossom through the interleague system — including this year’s senior captain and vice-captain.
‘‘I’ve been coaching the side for about seven years now and I’ve been lucky enough to see some great players come through,’’ Wells said.
‘‘Guys like Jason Cole (senior captain), Lachie Smith, Sam Martyn, Ash Holland (vice-captain) and Nick Warnock have been among the boys to come though, and it’s great to see so many going on to great things.’’
Wells’ charges held off a late charge from Ovens and Murray last year to snare an eight-point victory, and hopes are high that result can be repeated tomorrow against Ballarat.
GVL captain Kai Madgwick starred last season with three goals in a best-on-ground performance and returns for tomorrow’s clash, along with Liam Tenace and Adam Pigatto.
‘‘Kai and Adam were fantastic last year, and Liam had three or four shots on goal early on in the game,’’ Wells said.
‘‘Hopefully the boys have learnt from last year and can pass on some of that experience to this year’s group.’’
The match against Ballarat will be played at Richmond’s training facility on Punt Rd, with excitement among the GVL squad at an almost all-time high.
‘‘The boys had pretty high hopes when it was first announced that the senior game was at the MCG that we might be able to play on it before them in the morning,’’ Wells said.
‘‘That obviously didn’t eventuate, but it’s still going to be a great opportunity for them.
‘‘Heading down as a group on Friday night and spending the lead up to the game together will be great, but as we’ve seen in the past there will also be plenty of scouts there watching.
‘‘Some of these boys haven’t had the chance to play TAC Cup, but it only takes one good performance to put themselves on the radar for VFL selection next year.’’
Wells has done as much research as he can on Ballarat’s squad, but is also keen to focus on what his charges can produce.
‘‘We only know the little bits and pieces about Ballarat that we’ve been able to find out, but we know they’ve got some good players who are playing senior footy,’’ Wells said.
‘‘But we’ve got 17 boys who have had a taste of senior footy at least as well.
‘‘Daniel Lawson from Kyabram is an exciting prospect and it’s good to see him get rewarded for his efforts, he was in the squad last year, but didn’t make it.
‘‘Baily MacDonald from Benalla will play on a wing and he’s very quick.
‘‘Ethan Moor will be good as well, he’s really stepped it up this year for Tatura and you can probably use him anywhere. His size is similar to that of a second or third tall, but he has been playing some really good footy in the midfield.
‘‘Overall, it’s a pretty even team though and we’re looking forward to seeing how we go.’’
And as far as strategy goes, the GVL will simply look to win the football first and move it forward quickly.
‘‘It’s very hard to implement a team strategy and game plan as such when you are only together for three weeks,’’ Wells said.
‘‘But a lot of these kids already understand ball movement and when to hold onto the footy or release someone on the outside.
‘‘Being first at the football and pressuring the ball carrier is going to be huge.’’
Baily MacDonald, Riley Johnson, Tom Moloney (Benalla), Jordan Frew, Liam Tenace, Riley Clarke, Fraser Verhey, Trent Campbell (Echuca), Andrew Crosbie, Marcus Heritage, Robert Paradzayi (Euroa), Daniel Lawson, Harry Browning-Briese (Kyabram), Kai Madgwick (Mooroopna), Ben Rigoni (Seymour), Spencer Small (Shepparton), Lachie McMahon, Tyreece Collison, Zac Alderton (Shepparton Swans), Fraser Hicks, Adam Pigatto (Shepparton United), Charlie Hill, Ethan Moor (Tatura).