HAMPDEN league coach Nick O’Sullivan believes his players will need to be mentally strong to bring down the Ovens and Murray in Saturday’s Victorian Country Championships match at Wangaratta’s Norm Minns Oval.
O’Sullivan said yesterday the prospect of an eight-hour bus trip to take on Brendan Fevola’s star-studded line-up was daunting but far from impossible.
“We are underdogs for sure,” O’Sullivan said.
“It will be twice in three years we will have a have a crack at the O and M, which will never happen again.
“It’s a great opportunity to nail this one.
“We have 10 sides now and they have 10 sides so it’s all equal.
“It’s just the mindset.
“We will go through our game plan and the travel up and challenges that lay ahead in not sleeping in your own bed and things like that.
“Interleague footy is about overcoming abnormal things.
“It will test our players’ resilience and I’m confident we will be able to do that.”
Hampden has been rocked by unavailability and injury in the lead-up to the fifth versus sixth match, with the Bottle Greens missing three stars due to an overseas wedding.
But it showed last year in thumping Sunraysia by 94 points that it cannot be underestimated, despite the O and M having up to five former AFL players in its team.
O’Sullivan said Fevola, who has kicked 36 goals for Yarrawonga this season, loomed as the obvious danger.
“We will probably give Paul Hinkley a crack first,” he said.
“Hinks will be our vice-captain and has played four years for us and has been an exceptional leader.
“He’s got good reach and is a pretty quick bloke for a tall fellow.”
Terang-Mortlake veteran Damian O’Connor and Port Fairy coach Sam Rudolph also shape as possibilities to pick up Fevola.
Hampden’s squad will leave Warrnambool on Friday.
Saturday’s match starts at 3pm.