Sport

GVL under-18.5 interleague preview

By Shepparton News

Raising the curtain for the interleague seniors at the Avalon Airport Oval will be the Goulburn Valley League’s under-18.5, also set to battle the best of the Western Region Football League.

The GVL’s youngsters have won their last two interleague encounters and will shoot for number three with a roster stuffed full of genuine senior-level contributors.

Coach Jason Wells again takes the reins, and he hoped to see his troops play with plenty of pride while representing the league.

‘‘For me it’s the thrill of wearing the representative jumper. You can’t put structures and stuff in place, it comes down to effort really because the skill level is probably exactly the same,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s always a great time of year, and great that everyone wants to play for the side.

‘‘Unfortunately we can’t pick everyone, we started with a squad of about 55, that was cut down to 31, and eventually down to 23 at our final training. We’re looking forward to going down to Werribee.’’

Headlining the star-studded line-up is a dangerous midfield, with Kai Madgwick (Mooroopna), Joel Sanford (Mansfield), Luke Whyte (Shepparton Swans), Tom Panuccio, Robbie Paradzayi (both Euroa) and Joel Serra (Shepparton United) all expected to roll through the middle.

Euroa’s Paradzayi is certainly no stranger to interleague football, having lit up Punt Road Oval last year with a minor fireworks show as the GVL’s under-18s beat Ballarat by 10 points, while leadership duo Madgwick (captain) and Whyte (vice-captain) are also on fire in the seniors.

‘‘Kai captained the side last year, it’s actually his third season playing,’’ Wells said.

‘‘The first year he was an emergency, came in late and was best-on-ground, and in his second year he showed all the leadership skills we are after. He picks himself as captain really.

‘‘This year (Whyte) has been outstanding, I watched him on the weekend for the Swans, he was massive playing an inside midfield role, it looks like he’s running on top of the ground and loving his footy.’’

Wells said the midfield crew stood out as a strength, with run and carry against the size of a metropolitan league to be vital in determining the result.

‘‘We’re probably missing a few we thought we might’ve had, but if you look at that group, the four that will probably start on the ball have all played senior football, not just this year but last year as well,’’ he said.

‘‘We’re pretty excited with that group but there’s a lot across every line that have played senior football. It’s great for interleague, and it shows us that GVL coaches are giving young players an opportunity.

‘‘Last time we played against a metropolitan side we faced the Essendon league, and we thought we were playing their seniors.

‘‘They seem to have a lot stronger bodies than country footballers, but it looks like a nice day so we’re looking to run the ball a lot and beat them on the spread and get them on the outside.’’