The Murray Bushrangers have named a 52-man squad for the rapidly-approaching NAB League under-18 season — and Shepparton’s Lachie Ash will be leading the way.
The Bears’ Goulburn Valley League premiership player will co-captain the Bushies with Rutherglen’s Cam Wilson as the duo strives to lead the side back to the promised land.
Along with Ethan Baxter, a fellow AFL Academy member, and new talent Cam Wild from the Diamond Creek footy factory, Ash completes a dynamic trio representing the Bears in the squad.
But no local side has more representatives than Shepparton United, the Demons packing seven players into the squad led by returning trio Jye Chalcraft, Liam Fiore and Zane Barzen, the latter two over-agers.
Congupna’s Jimmy Boyer, Tungamah’s Nick Irvine and Seymour’s Hudson Kaak have all been picked after making debuts last season.
Of new faces, blue chip Euroa prospect Tom Panuccio stands out along with Mooroopna’s Lachlan Sykes, while Izac Artavilla, Harry Beasley (Cobram), Ben Ashley-Cooper (Finley) and Josh O’Dwyer (Numurkah) will represent the Murray Football League with pride.
Talent manager Mick Wilson explained the detailed selection process, where every eligible player in the region was culled to slightly more than 50.
‘‘Selection began in July last year where clubs nominated talented players. A squad of 90 players joined pre-season in November with our final squad selected after a series of intraclub and practice matches,’’ he said.
‘‘Our coaching staff, AFL recruiters and AFL Academy selector all contribute to the process of squad selection.’’
Coach Mark Brown, who highlighted Ash’s and Wilson’s effort to earn co-captaincy status, said missing the cut now did not end chances of playing NAB League footy this season.
‘‘(Ash and Wilson) were selected by their teammates and coaching staff which reflects how highly-rated both players are within the group,’’ he said.
‘‘It was a very thorough selection process and whilst there are disappointed players, each of these players are well prepared for the upcoming season.
‘‘We will continue to monitor their development and many players will come back into the squad on the back of strong local footy and continued improvement.’’