OVENS and Murray under-19 coach Darren Hovey believes a good start is key to defeating Mornington-Peninsula-Nepean at Rosebud on Saturday.
Hovey expects the host league to provide formidable opposition and says his side can't afford to be caught napping.
"If it's anything like the last three years, they will be a very strong contested side," Hovey said.
"You can't start slowly in these games.
"It's too hard.
"It will be physical and quick."
The Ovens and Murray has named a team loaded with senior experience with Wangaratta Rovers ruckman Ed Dayman, Wangaratta midfielder Harry Smart, Albury pair Fraser Duryea and Riley Bice, Yarrawonga defender Bailey Fraunfelder and Wodonga Raider Hayden Clarke set to be pivotal.
Mornington Peninsula-Nepean coach Paul Scanlon expects the Ovens and Murray to play a physical game.
"In my time in the Goulburn Valley we played against Ovens and Murray and I remember the under 19s being built like men, with very mature bodies," he said.
"It's going to be a great challenge, but we've picked a very skilled side that is quick and uses the ball well and it will be interesting to see how that brand of footy stacks up.
"But basically I've just told the boys to go out and have some fun and showcase their skills."
Hovey, who is coaching the league for a second time after being an assistant to Paul Maher, said it had been a difficult task finalising the line-up.
"We're really happy," he said.
"There is a good representation across all the sides.
"There are a lot of 19-year-olds and a couple of kids who have another year of playing as well.
"We had 48 players at the start and it's been really hard getting it down to 22 this week."
The team is:
B, Williamson, Saunders, Crawford
HB: Duryea, Smart, Fraunfelder
C: Smart, Gerrish, Ellis
HF: Bice, Spencer, Clarke
F: Ardern, Hennessy, Mullins
Foll: Dayman, Bradshaw, Amery
Inter, Ziebarth, Amery, Bren, Sexton
Emerg: Everett, Jarratt.