Wangaratta will reunite its specialist ruckmen in Saturday's historic double header against Yarrawonga.
For the first time in the league's 128-year history during the regular season under such unique circumstances, two Victorian clubs will play in NSW.
The move was forced on the Ovens and Murray as Victorian crowds are still capped at 150, despite Melbourne moving out of COVID lockdown late Thursday night.
In a classic case of making the best of a bad situation, Lavington and Wodonga will meet at Lavington Sportsground from midday, with Wangaratta to play a 'home' game against Yarrawonga at the same venue from 2.45pm.
It's also unique in that, for the first time in the modern era, there will be no Melbourne-based players, who are banned from playing, again due to COVID.
The Pies will be without four players, including defender Mat Grossman, while Yarrawonga is without Logan Morey and Riley Welsh.
The absence of the latter means former VFL big man Lach Howe will tackle Wangaratta duo Zac Leitch and Chris Knowles.
The pair has combined earlier this season, but long-time ruckman Leitch was dropped for Knowles after the game against Albury on May 1.
Knowles played for the Pies' fiercest rivals, Wangaratta Rovers, in 2019, and is loving life on the 'other side'.
"Absolutely, (coach) Dean (Stone) is very good, his ability to connect with his players, individually as well, and I've reaped the benefits of that, it's been huge for my development," Knowles admitted.
The ruck requires a degree of 'mongrel' as the combatants contest one-on-one contests.
However, during the week, Knowles has a softer side, running Kids Plus, which looks after children with disabilities.
"Mum and dad both worked in the industry and from a young age, I volunteered at mum's work as a 14-15-year old and went from there," he revealed.
"I always knew I wanted to work with kids."
And it's an emotional rollercoaster.
"Especially in my role now where I'm working more closely with the families and hearing the feedback from them as to the positive impact it's having, that can be very emotional," he offered.
Hearing the feedback from the familiies as to the positive importance it's having, that can be very emotional.Chris Knowles
"There was one child who struggled to communicate effectively and so I did a lot of work with him to communicate in other ways by using pictures and working with speech therapists.
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"That was my first point of (having) real pride in what I do."
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