7 picked for state squad

SEVEN of the Ovens and Murray’s best have made the AFL Victoria Country squad.

Albury trio Joel Mackie, Brayden O’Hara and Lonnie Hampton, Yarrawonga duo Drew Barnes and Brandon Symes, Lavington ace Adam Prior and Wangaratta Rovers captain Tyson Hartwig all got the call-up from coach Peter Knights yesterday after strong interleague showings last month.

Hawthorn legend Knights and his selection panel released a 39-man squad to take on Victoria Metro on July 12 at Geelong’s Simonds Stadium.

Despite sitting fourth in the rankings, the Ovens and Murray was the second most represented league.

The Goulburn Valley league had nine of its players selected in the squad that will be trimmed to 24 before the game.

Several O and M stars were overlooked at the selection table and Knights was the first to admit he had a tough time.

“When we first met last week we had more than 70 players who had been nominated as worthy inclusions and to reduce that to 39 was a difficult task,” he said.

“We had a member of our selection panel at each of the matches involving the top-10 leagues and also spoke with a number of other parties to see if there was anyone from outside those games that warranted inclusion.

“Playing the Metro side will no doubt be the toughest challenge we’ve faced in my five years as coach but we think we’ve picked a side that will be committed to representing WorkSafe AFL Victoria Country and give us the best possible chance of victory.”