SELECTORS plotting Warrnambool’s path to success at Melbourne Country Week could inject fresh blood into the line-up, with several new faces among the initial squad.
Veteran Allansford recruit Heinrich Joyce and new coach Dan Schuppan have been included as two of six Gators while reigning premier Woodford also boasts half a dozen players.
Coach Ray Drew hinted a number of in-form overseas players were also in with a chance after impressing in the opening month of competition.
Three import players – including cricketer of the year Jason Perera, West Warnambool all-rounder Jack Sunderland and Russells Creek batsman Rukshan Weerasinghe – have been named.
He said the squad was set to begin its preparations a month earlier than it had in the past.
“We’re very happy with the players as a whole selection committee,” Drew said.
“We’ve had guys like Jack Sunderland (West Warrnambool) and Jason Perera (Port Fairy) making runs and putting pressure on the local players to perform.
“There’s a lot of new talent.”
Selectors have also shown faith in young talent, with Nestles’ Bailey Jenkinson and Jacob Hetherington picked in the 34-man squad.
Experienced Factory batsmen Geoff Williams and Brett Eldridge have also been named.
Drew said the players were determined to make amends for a heartbreaking second-place finish in February.
Warrnambool fell to Geelong by just eight runs.
“We’ve got everyone committed to making that little bit more effort. We want to be number one, instead of number two,” Drew said.
Both Brierly-Christ Church (Mark Murphy and Nathan Murphy) and Merrivale (Jeremy Burgess and Josh Stapleton) have two representatives.
Port Fairy (Perera, Aaron Williams and Travis Parsons), West Warrnambool (Sunderland, Alastair Templeton and Ben Threlfall) and Wesley-CBC (Ben Evans, Tom Bowman and Ryan McArdle) have three apiece.
Jason Mungean is Nirranda’s sole selection.