Murray Bushrangers v Oakleigh Chargers preview

By Liam Nash

Months of grafting will be put into practice on Sunday when the Murray Bushrangers’ girls take to the field for round one of the NAB League.

Kicking off this year's campaign on home soil, the Bushrangers are assembled and awaiting the challenge of Oakleigh Chargers at Wangaratta’s Norm Minns Oval, a side that fell just short of the final four in last year’s competition.

A host of Shepparton United talent decks the starting line-up, with Ally Morphett and Kate Adams named in the ruck, Keeley Skepper and India Lehman set to feature in the back pockets, while Lily Sharp, Molly Kennedy and Olivia Cicolini are also among the squad picked.

Other areas of the Goulburn Valley have been well represented in the 18 selected to take to the park, with Tatura’s Sarah Lange Richards, Seymour’s Chloe Locke and Benalla duo Sam Pritchard and Tayissa Gray confirmed as starters.

Putting full faith in his playing group, Bushrangers coach Mario De Santa-ana hopes his side can kick start the campaign in the best possible fashion.

“We are very happy with where we are at in terms of the squad, we are confident we can compete this year,” he said.

“Oakleigh was one of the top sides last year, they just missed out on finals, so it's going to be a tough game.”

Following on from the side's initial screening process in October, De Santa-ana noted the squad had been fully operational since pre-season ramped up in November and was primed from a number of warm-up games and camps.

Now raring to go, the Bushrangers will hope to start hot out of the gates and build on last year’s ninth place.

“We are happy with our draw; we play five local games in the regular season which is good for us because there isn’t as much travel,” De Santa-ana said.

“If we can get a few wins early, then that will put us in a good spot for the rest of the season.”

● Following the Murray Bushrangers versus Oakleigh Chargers clash, Richmond and Collingwood will square off in a pre-season friendly from 4.10 pm at Norm Minns Oval.