A FIXTURING nightmare could derail Yarrawonga’s top-three hopes, with up to five key players set to be unavailable for next round’s danger game against Corowa-Rutherglen.
Drew Barnes, Brandon Symes, Connor Hargreaves, Logan Morey and Damon Symes remain in contention to represent Victoria Country in Saturday week’s “bush v burbs” clash against Melbourne’s premier community leagues.
Hargreaves, Morey and Damon Symes are in the under-19 squad, with both games to be played in Geelong on July 12.
Yarrawonga hosts an in-form Corowa-Rutherglen the same day.
“It’s not ideal,” Pigeons co-coach Chris Kennedy said yesterday.
“We’ll have to wait and see.”
Corowa-Rutherglen has no players in either squad and is expected to field its strongest team of the season, with former SANFL star Brett Zorzi to debut for the Roos.
They are two premiership points behind the Pigeons after 11 rounds and would leapfrog their river rival with an upset at J.C. Lowe Oval.
The Ovens and Murray has a bye this week, originally set aside for the Australian Country Championships.
However, that competition fell apart, with AFL Victoria booking its own representative clash to be held a week later after pulling out of the national carnival.
The fixture change has left several clubs in the lurch.
Albury has four players — Joel Mackie, Brayden O’Hara, Lonnie Hampton and Matt Munro — in the two squads.
Adam Prior (Lavington) and Tyson Hartwig (Wangaratta Rovers) were also selected, however, have both ruled themselves out.
In a twist, the pair are likely to lock horns as direct opponents when the Panthers host the Hawks.
Kennedy said the Pigeons would enter their clash with the Roos confident, regardless of who was available.
Yarrawonga is still without key midfielder Tim Cooper, who is overseas, but should regain former Richmond livewire Kayne Pettifer from a back injury.
“We think we’re on the road to getting back to our best,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said star veteran Jeremy O’Brien — a shock omission against Wangaratta — wouldn’t be left stranded on 198 senior games.
O’Brien, who played his 100th for the Pigeons last year after a stint at Wangaratta Rovers, starred in the reserves last weekend.