BRENDAN Fevola is sounding an ominous warning to Hampden, saying his Ovens and Murray league side is the best the country powerhouse has fielded in more than four years.
The former Carlton and Brisbane Lions star, who will make his coaching debut against Hampden in tomorrow’s country championships clash, yesterday painted a daunting prospect for the Bottle Greens.
Fevola said his Ovens and Murray squad wanted to make a statement after the league fell from country Victoria’s top four following consecutive interleague losses in 2012 and 2013.
Those losses came after Ovens and Murray demolished Hampden by 48 points at Carlton’s Princes Park in 2011.
“We pride ourselves on being better than what the rankings say,” Fevola said.
“Hopefully this could be the start of blokes wanting to play interleague again.
“This is probably the best team that has been put together in the last four or five years. Hopefully that will translate into a win.”
Fevola, who plays with Yarrawonga, was appointed coach by Ovens and Murray in a bid to get more support from the league’s top players. While his squad doesn’t include former St Kilda big man Justin Koschitzke (work), ex-Richmond forward Kayne Pettifer (back injury) and another former Tiger Chris Hyde (family commitments), it features former Richmond and St Kilda half-back Dean Polo, ex-Richmond player Craig Ednie, former South Australian state representative midfielder Brayden O’Hara, former Richmond-listed forward Dean Limbach and former GWS Giants-listed forward Adam Flagg.
The side also includes some of Ovens and Murray’s stars in the 2011 win over Hampden: match-winning midfielder Joel Mackie and key defender Tyson Hartwig. Fevola’s Yarrawonga teammate, ruckman Brandon Symes, is straight out of the VFL, plus there is Fevola.
Fevola said having star players didn’t always translate into a win. But he is leaving no stone unturned in the hope of advancing Ovens and Murray up the rankings. His players meet today in Albury where they enter a league-funded camp. The players will relax with a round of golf before having dinner together and instead of them then doing their own thing, they would all stay together at a motel.
That way they will arrive as one to Wangaratta’s Norm Minns Oval.
“We will be relaxing while the Hampden league have a seven-hour bus trip,” he said.
Fevola said he expected Hampden to be tough to beat.
“You never underestimate the underdog,” he said.
He said he was looking forward to the match — the first interleague contest Ovens and Murray had played at home in about six years.
“I don’t get nervous about too many things but I am, coaching for the first time,” Fevola said.
OVENS AND MURRAY
B: Jack Di Mizio (Wodonga Raiders), Tyson Hartwig (Wangaratta Rovers), Luke Packer (Albury)
HB: Judd Porter (Wangaratta), Drew Barnes (Yarrawonga), Daniel Maher (Albury)
C: Steve Jolliffe (Wodonga Raiders), Brayden O’Hara (Albury), Tyler Bonat (Yarrawonga)
HF: Jarrah Maksymow (North Albury), Dean Limbach (Wodonga Raiders), Adam Flagg (Lavington)
F: Craig Ednie (Yarrawonga), Brendan Fevola (Yarrawonga), Lonnie Hampton (Albury)
FOL: Brandon Symes (Yarrawonga), Dean Polo (Albury), Joel Mackie (Albury)
INT: Tim Cooper (Yarrawonga), Kris Holman (North Albury), Brant Dickson (Lavington), Adam Prior (Lavington)
EMG: Jamie Seymour (Corowa-Rutherglen)
B: Brendan Moore (Warrnambool), Paul Hinkley (Cobden), Dylan Gunning (Port Fairy)
HB: Chris Baxter (Terang Mortlake), Nick Bateman (Camperdown), Isaac Templeton (Koroit)
C: Sam Harkin (Cobden), Matthew Wines (North Warrnambool Eagles), Tim Meulendyks (Hamilton Kangaroos)
HF: Travis Graham (Warrnambool), Sam Dobson (Koroit), Brody Mahoney (Cobden)
F: Jake Myles (Portland), Dan Casey (Camperdown), Jeremy Hausler (Koroit)
Fol: Jordan Dillon (North Warrnambool Eagles), Nick Thompson (South Warrnambool), Jake Dignan (Portland)
Int: Jackson Bell (Warrnambool), Wil Pomorin (Terang Mortlake), Andrew McCarthy (Warrnambool), Chris Bant (Terang Mortlake)
Emerg: Dallas Mooney (Koroit)