Tough choice when Bush comes to shove

March 08, 2018

Murray Bushranger Nick Irvine featured in Tungamah's losing senior grand final last year, but may be forced to change clubs to Yarrawonga to remain a part of the TAC Cup team.

Decisions to be made: Junior talent pathway programs including the Murray Bushrangers and AFL Goulburn Murray Academy will not be available to players who remain at PDFNL clubs.

Nick Irvine is tossing up whether he will play at family club Tungamah next season or move to Ovens and Murray Football Netball League in order to continue playing in the TAC Cup.

Irvine is one of the chosen few to be included in the Murray Bushrangers under-18 talent program and the only Picola District Football Netball League representative in the top tier team.

Irvine proved his worth as a senior footballer at the Bears last year, playing 19 games which included a losing grand final.

But the league’s decision to steer away from signing the AFL Victoria affiliation agreement means he will be unable to continue in the program unless he changes leagues.

With the league missing AFL Goulburn Murray’s deadline on Monday to affiliate, mother Felicity Irvine received a call from AFL Victoria Country talent pathways manager Lee Fraser about the issues that had arisen.

She said her son, more commonly known by his nickname ‘‘Whoopa’’, was making inroads at Tungamah ahead of the new south-east season.

‘‘He’s really cemented his spot in the seniors and looks to be doing the same thing this season, whereas the likelihood is that we’re going to have to move him if nothing can be resolved,’’ she said.

‘‘Lee is just trying to make sure Whoopa is okay and keep him calm and relaxed that it will be resolved, it just could mean he can’t play there (Tungamah).’’

Living at Lake Rowan and with the start of the OMFNL season at the end of the month, Felicity said Yarrawonga looked the most likely club where Nick would end up.

But she said it would be disappointing for Nick to have to leave the club at which Felicity played netball for more than two decades, with husband Rob involved for longer.

Nick is staying relaxed despite the events around him, having already chatted to Tungamah coach Jeremy O’Brien about the possibility of having to play elsewhere.

Felicity said Tungamah had invested plenty into his development, although he looked likely to leave for reasons beyond his control.

‘‘There’s a possibility to lose us to another club, Rob has been there for 30 odd years, you’re going to lose your families,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m not saying he will be, but in two years’ time he (Nick) could potentially be drafted and they’ll lose that right to say he came from their league.’’

With the league remaining affiliated for two more weeks, Nick will still be able to train with the Bushies while still at Tungamah.

But any time beyond that will require a difficult decision.

Fergus Pinnuck is another junior caught up in the fallout, with the Strathmerton teenager a member of Murray Bushrangers’ under-16 squad.

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