STAR Yarrawonga recruits Lachie Howe and Mark Whiley have been named in a powerful Ovens and Murray squad to take on Goulburn Valley next month.
Howe has been the form big-man of the competition in the opening three rounds, while Whiley is living up to the hype that came with his signing after being delisted by Carlton.
In another boost, Albury star Chris Hyde has been named and is set to represent the league for the first time since arriving at the Tigers in 2009.
Albury’s Sam Schulz and Wangaratta forward Michael Newton are other big names selected in a 42-man squad.
Schulz made his debut for the reigning premier at the weekend following knee surgery, with co-coach Darrell Spencer keen to give him every chance to prove his fitness in the coming weeks.
The most notable absentee is Daniel Cross, who is unavailable to play at Wodonga on May 13 due to running commitments with Melbourne in Adelaide that evening.
Howe has been on fire for Yarrawonga after nominating the Pigeons as his preferred club when not selected for VFL team Collingwood.
“It’s a good opportunity so I thought why not,” Howe said.
“Pending availability with Collingwood’s reserves, I’m keen to play for the Ovens and Murray.
“I’m pretty reliant on injuries to the big blokes at Collingwood with Cox (Mason), Lynch (Max), Keeffe (Lachie) and another basketball convert learning the craft playing in the VFL.
“It’s been great getting back to Yarra.”
Howe, who is originally from Rennie, compared the Ovens and Murray to the Geelong league after he spent three seasons with St Josephs earlier in his career.
“It stacks up against Geelong,” he said.
“Obviously it’s early days for me here, but the O and M is very good footy.
“Playing against the Goulburn Valley is great as well because it’s right across town.”
Spencer said he was pleased with the squad.
“We have plenty of talent at our disposal,” Spencer said.
“We tried to pick defensive players, attacking players and a good midfield group.”
Albury and Lavington has the most players in the squad with six representatives.
Luke Morgan’s Goulburn Valley named its 34-man squad earlier this month.
It includes Morgan and Benalla teammates James Martyn, Sam Martyn, Nick Warnock, Jordan Wolff, David Mennen and Zac Palpratt.
Kyabram’s Lachie Smith, who was targeted by several Ovens and Murray clubs over the off-season, is also set to play.
Goulburn Valley lost to Essendon and District by four points this year to drop down the rankings while the Ovens and Murray climbed by rolling Hampden in Warrnambool.
The squad is:
ALBURY: Michael Duncan, Brayden O’Hara, Joel Mackie, Elliott Powell, Sam Schulz, Chris Hyde
COROWA-RUTHERGLEN: Jay O’Donohue, William Robinson
LAVINGTON: Brant Dickson, Jonathon Spina, Tom Hargreave, Luke Garland, James Saker, Nick Holman
MYRTLEFORD: Matt Dussin, Mitch Dalbosco, Frazer Dale, Hugh Wales
NORTH ALBURY: Shaun Mannagh, Lachie Taylor-Nugent, Jesse Johnson
WANGARATTA: Matt Grossman, Michael Bordignon, Ben Speight, Michael Newton, Josh Porter
WANGARATTA ROVERS: Dylan Stone, Shane Gaston, Sam Carpenter
WODONGA: Jackson Heagney-Steart, Brett Doswell, Jarrod Hodgkin, Thomas Johnson, Stephen Murray
WODONGA RAIDERS: Jack Di Mizio, Jydon Neagle, Brodie Filo, Bradley St John
YARRAWONGA: Tyler Bonat, Lachie Howe, Mark Whiley, Nick Lawless