ELLINBANK AND DISTRICT FOOTBALL LEAGUE – INTERLEAGUE PREVIEW
HARD, rugged inside midfielders; running half-backs; strong key position stocks; and a potent forward line stacked with proven match-winners… this year’s EDFL interleague side has it all.
Coach Aussie Jones has a final squad of 25 (including two emergencies) that he’s confident is as adaptable as it is versatile, and capable of adjusting on the fly if the situation demands against Maryborough Castlemaine at Princes Park in Maryborough on Saturday afternoon.
Ricky Clark, Shaun Marusic and Justin Berry headline an impressive list of big-name inclusions from last year’s side while, in all, only Ryan Gillis, Tye Holland, Jeremy Monckton, Nathan Muratore, Tim Payne and Matt Gray are returning from last year’s group. Brad Walker will serve alongside Brent Eastwell and Travis Marsham as assistants to Jones and, with all three senior coaches at clubland, the EDFL’s off-field brigade on Saturday should be one of its biggest strengths.
Champion Buln Buln ruckman Matt Gray will skipper the side, but Shane Brewster – his predecessor as interleague captain – is notable by his absence. After sustaining a knee injury on the weekend playing for the Dusties, his loss will definitely be felt. But Jones is confident the side has the depth to cover it.
The first thing that stands out about the squad is its balance. While there is a string of bonafide stars in the group, there are others who’ve been selected to play specific roles and have been duly rewarded for their undeniable form at club level.
“It was something we discussed as a coaching group – going for balance over a whole squad of big names,” Jones said.
“We’ve got a really good mix with the back seven we’ve selected, all those guys who can run through the midfield, a couple of bigs, and pace inside forward 50.
“We’ve also got guys like Ben Miller, Langley and Petch who could play at either end of the ground, and Marusic can play in the ruck too.
“Matty (Gray) is very smart – he can conserve his energy and Shaun can give him a chop out.”
Jones is also excited to see his forward line in action, with a mixture of lead-up key position types and exciting smalls working in tandem.
“Someone like Jason Wells might not even get the opposition’s best small defender because we’ve also got (Justin) Berry,” Jones said.
“Gillis, Langley and Marusic can all be lead-up forwards, and Marusic is our real brute.
“Versatility, overall, was really big in selecting the side with guys like Dylan Heylen and Brent Hughes able to go from the backline through the midfield.”
Jones acknowledged how big a loss Brewster is, adding: “I’ve got enormous respect for the Shane and the way he goes about his footy”.
But he was just as quick to emphasise the opportunities available to some of the younger players in the side, which could form its nucleus for the years to come.
“We’re very excited about the guys who put their hands up to play,” Jones said.
“We’ll be potent with the footy, but we’ve also got some great defensive players in the side… no real concerns when it comes to height, strength, pace, ball use, ball-winning or our spread.”
2015 EDFL INTERLEAGUE SIDE:
1. Ricky Clark (Cora Lynn)
2. Justin Berry (Garfield)
3. Jack Blakey (Bunyip)
4. Mitch Nobelius (Buln Buln)
5. Tim Payne (Cora Lynn)
6. Ryan Gillis (Cora Lynn)
7. Brent Hughes (Nar Nar Goon)
8. Zac Vansittart (Bunyip)
9. Tyson Payne (Garfield)
10. Jackson Dalton (Cora Lynn)
11. Tye Holland (Longwarry)
12. Tim Miller (Kooweerup)
13. Jason Wells (Nilma Darnum)
14. Lachlan Petch (Bunyip)
15. Nathan Muratore (Cora Lynn)
16. Jeremy Monckton (Cora Lynn)
17. Nathan Langley (Cora Lynn)
18. Aaron Creasey (Lang Lang)
19. Dylan Heylen (Nyora)
20. Matt Gray (Buln Buln) – captain
21. Adam MacGibbon (Garfield)
22. Ben Miller (Kooweerup)
23. Shaun Marusic (Kooweerup)
24. Matt Stevens (Nar Nar Goon) – emergency
25. Shaun Phelan (Ellinbank) – emergency