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Darby proud to earn chance to wear Big V

By Alex Mitchell

A quartet of rising Goulburn Valley League superstars will don the Big V this weekend, representing Victoria Country against the Victorian Amateur Football Association.

In the 11.30am Mars Stadium curtain-raiser, the state’s best prospects will do battle for the Under-19 Challenge Cup, with the GVL one of the best-represented leagues.

Dynamic Echuca duo Darby Henderson and Angus Byrne are in the squad, along with Shepparton defender Liam Duguid and Kyabram prospect Brad Whitford.

And while the game might just be for bragging rights, the Country squad has a lot to live up to, with the bush-based players tasting victory in the past four meetings.

VFL-listed Henderson was jumping at the opportunity.

‘‘It’s very exciting — I can’t wait,’’ he said.

‘‘Everyone knows it’s a real honour to make the Vic Country side, so I’m excited to get the jumper and run out there.

‘‘I think there are only a few leagues that have more players than us, which shows that the GV standard is improving.’’

Henderson was especially pleased his teammate Byrne had been recognised for his phenomenal form — and was looking forward to teaming up with usual GVL rivals Duguid and Whitford.

‘‘Gus has been killing it all year, he definitely deserves it,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s a really good effort from him to be in there.

‘‘I played a few games with Brad when I was a bottom-ager, and he’s a really silky player. I don’t know much about Liam, but he played really well against us a few weeks ago.’’

Damian Sexton, the Finley legend and Yarrawonga coach, will continue his long involvement as Country’s coach.

Last year’s success involved withstanding a barnstorming finish from the VAFA, which kicked four goals in the last quarter to get within four points of victory.

On the GVL front, Henderson said things were clicking for Echuca, with a big back half of the season on the cards.

‘‘It’s unbelievable now, with everything we were trying to implement we were struggling a bit at the start of the season,’’ he said.

‘‘But we’re really learning how each other play and the structures Walks (Andrew Walker) is bringing in are really working.

‘‘(My form) was a bit slow at the start of the season with the knee injury. But I’m getting that fitness back and starting to hit my straps a bit, and hopefully it can be a big second half to the season.’’