Pigeons ready to step up

Drew Barnes

Drew Barnes

YARRAWONGA enforcer Drew Barnes says the Pigeons have been waiting to play another contender ahead of today’s blockbuster against Lavington.

The Yarrawonga co-coach said he had noticed a change in his side this week as it butters up for a test against a premiership rival.

The Pigeons haven’t featured in a big game since their clash with Albury in round 1 that was abandoned due to James McQuillan’s spinal injury.

“We haven’t been overly impressive lately,” Barnes said.

“We’ve just been getting by.

“But you can really tell this week there’s been slight mindset change to the group.

“Obviously players want to play well in big games and it’s safe to say this is one of those.”

Barnes said he was disappointed the Panthers wouldn’t be at full-strength today but said the Pigeons had to respect their opposition.

Lavington will be without Adam Prior, Matt Pendergast, Kade Stevens, Myles Aalbers, Sam Harris and Mitch Palmer this afternoon.

“You want to play sides at their best and at full-strength but we are still wary of them,” Barnes said.

“They’ve got some quality kids coming into the side and we need to pay them the respect they deserve.

“This is certainly a danger game for us.”

Conversely, things at the selection table at J.C. Lowe Oval are starting to heat up as players return.

The Pigeons welcome back Tim Cooper and Murray Bushrangers’ star Brady Pritchard this week.

Connor Hargreaves will get first crack at Lavington star Justin Koschitzke.

“It’s starting to come together for us,” Barnes said.

“We’ve got that 26 to 30 who are vying for spots, so now it’s about finding that mix.”