We at The News are particularly proud of our sporting exports and how they represent the region with such class on a regular basis.
Outside The Box has been following our exports’ form in excruciating detail via notorious SuperCoach team GV Exports, which has surged into the top 63 per cent of teams after a mind-boggling 2215 a fortnight back.
But this got us thinking — which Goulburn Valley League side would benefit most if all of its AFL-listed exports were to instantly return to the fold?
This means a quick apology to Shepparton United and Tatura, which have no players on an AFL list.
Every time a locally-sourced AFL player retires or is delisted, the rumour mill fires up, linking them with a return to their home club.
Echuca’s Andrew Walker, for example, played one season in Melbourne post-retirement before heading back to the Murray, and Benalla president Lloyd Johnson confirmed the club had multiple discussions with power forward Jarrad Waite this off-season before the former Saint opted for the somehow more lucrative world of amateur football.
Due to how sensitive country footballers seem to be and how every column, no matter how positive, seems to be turned into a negative, OTB again feels the need to put a large disclaimer before more award-winning content.
This column is about celebrating our exports and wishing for a time where we got to see them at country grounds in their prime and is not about putting down any other footballer.
Even last week’s Mock Trade Week, which surely was a bit of fun and focused on how players could bring their strengths to other teams, was met with a degree of negativity.
I take inspiration from MMA fighter and cultural icon Conor McGregor in my response to this; I would like to take this opportunity to apologise — to absolutely nobody.
Benalla — Caleb Marchbank, Harry Morrison and Tom Rockliff
An emerging defensive general, a silky midfielder and a bull — what a bonanza this would be for the Saints.
While Rockliff is the most talented of the trio, Marchbank caught my eye in a big way against Collingwood a fortnight back, leading the way brilliantly in the back half as his Carlton side was under attack.
Benalla seems on track for a top four or five finish as it is, but if you added in these three, it would certainly be aiming higher than that.
Echuca — Ollie Wines and Sam Reid
What a thought this is, adding Wines to a list already brimming with talent.
You would just plonk him in the guts and say ‘‘go to work, son’’ — Wines is averaging 6.2 clearances a game this season in the AFL, so you shudder to imagine the sort of numbers he would put up at the GVL level.
And Reid, first on an AFL list back in 2008, brings veteran presence and would add class essentially anywhere on the field.
Second best team as it is, but with this lot Kyabram would be worried.
Euroa — Jamie Elliott and Will Hayes
Among a couple of clear issues, an inability to hit the scoreboard is hurting Euroa this season, with a total of 350 points for the campaign ranking it second bottom in attack with only the Shepparton Swans behind it.
Who better to address this than a man who makes something out of nothing on the regular, Collingwood’s Elliott, who has 12 goals and seven goal assists in seven games this AFL season.
The Magpies would also benefit greatly with the midfield class and ball accumulation ability of Will Hayes, who with twin brother JD would form a dynamic duo.
Kyabram — Brett Deledio and Nick Holman
The Bombers are stacked with former AFL talent as it is, and things would not get any easier for the rest of the competition if you added in these two.
Deledio’s injury struggles all well noted, but you would only ask him for eight to 10 games in the GVL, a few to get warmed up and then the post-season.
Regular OTB reader and column connoisseur Nick Holman — a 2013 premiership Bomber — would also offer a bit, slotting five goals in eight games this AFL season.
Mansfield — James Cousins
OTB has been quietly impressed with Cousins’ progress this season, really stepping up with Hawthorn.
His centre bounce attendance numbers are on the rise, and with six goals in eight games is beginning to hit the scoreboard from the midfield.
His AFL stocks are most certainly on the rise and would be a nice addition to the Eagles’ ranks.
Mooroopna — Jarrod Harbrow, Clayton Oliver, Jy Simpkin and Laitham Vandermeer
Boy oh boy, this would be a game-changer.
The Cats’ seniors have struggled to make an impact in recent years, yet have produced more AFL players than any other GVL club, including some out and out guns.
None would make more of an impact at GVL level than Oliver — he has averaged 28 disposals and six clearances a game in his AFL career and would quite simply tear this league to shreds.
Harbrow would add half-back class or could join Oliver to form a strong midfield, Simpkin would be lively on the wing and up forward, while Vandermeer has shown an ability to find the ball at VFL level.
Would shoot from the bottom to somewhere near the top.
Rochester — Joe Atley and Shaun Atley
The Atley Family Football Factory continues to produce, and its finest two talents would help Rochester in a huge way.
Shaun was, of course, recruited from Wodonga, but being from a proud Rochester family, would surely love to pull on the yellow and black.
Adding in Shaun and Joe would give the Tigers one of the league’s deepest and most versatile midfield crews; Shaun is averaging more than 20 disposals a game this season playing more off a half-back role, while Joe has won the ball for absolute fun in the SANFL and had 19 disposals in the ones last weekend.
Seymour — Tom Cole, David Mundy and Josh Schache
OTB has bought a large amount of Seymour stock already, but if you added these three you would borderline hand them the flag.
Jason Cole and Zac Keogh is already a scary midfield, and with Mundy they would belt teams into oblivion.
Cole’s cousin Tom would shore up the back six, while talent-filled Schache would be an ideal forward target in the GVL.
A simply scary thought.
Shepparton — Will Brodie and Jordon Butts
Brodie and Butts are particularly talented and add things the Bears would love to have right now.
Brodie has been in and out of the Gold Coast seniors, yet averages 22 touches a game while there, and has racked up plenty more than that when assigned to the NEAFL.
Meanwhile, Butts, whose lead-up play was vital in last season’s GVL grand final, is averaging 19 disposals and six marks a game in the SANFL, and would be humungous with a full run at a season with Shepparton.
Shepparton Swans — Jarman Impey
The great Jarman Impey spent time with the Swans and Bears, but for the sake of the experiment is considered a Swan.
Impey is a dynamo at either end of the field, but OTB feels he would do best with the Swans as a forward, where he instantly would become the most dangerous talent.
Which club would have the biggest improvement?