FOUR south-west teenagers are on the verge of winning spots in the Victorian Country side to contest the national under 18 football championships — an audition for this year’s AFL draft.
South Warrnambool’s Louis Herbert, Terang Mortlake’s Lewis Taylor, Kolora-Noorat’s Nick Bourke and Colac’s Brody Mahoney have been named in a 45-man Vic Country squad.
They will contest a trial game tomorrow against Vic Metro at Carlton’s Princes Park, with selectors then naming a 30-player squad that will open Vic Country’s championships campaign against NSW/ACT at Blacktown on June 2.
Vic Country football manager Phil Partington said the 45 players picked in the squad would make up Vic Country’s list for the first two games of the titles.
He said Herbert leapt into the squad with some impressive performances in recent weeks up forward for TAC Cup side the North Ballarat Rebels, after starting the season in the midfield.
Herbert, 17, said he was excited about tomorrow’s opportunity to seize a place in the side.
He said he was setting himself for a big performance.
Herbert said he was relishing being back in the forward line, having played at centre half-forward most of his junior career with Emmanuel Hawks and South Warrnambool.
“They threw me down to the forward line and I’ve been playing well, which is good,” he said.
Herbert revealed a hamstring/hip flexor injury had interrupted his TAC Cup campaign three weeks ago but the next two games he hit form.
“I just have to maintain my focus on Sunday’s game and play my best,” he said.
“Last year they selected 38 for the squad and all of them ended up playing at least one game for Vic Country.
“I hope it’s around only 10 who get cut.
“I just really have to play at my best.”
Herbert’s South Warr-nambool and Rebels teammate Wil Pomorin was selected in the first trial game but an ankle injury which sidelined him for three games ruined his chances of making the squad for the first two matches.
Partington said Pomorin had an opportunity to force his way back into the squad with strong performances for the Rebels.
Terang Mortlake’s Taylor has been a standout in his first year as an under 18 player with the Geelong Falcons. Partington described him as the “key playmaker” for the Falcons. He has been named in the Falcons best players four times from six games so far this season.
“He’s a boy that is really exciting. Hopefully he plays well.”
Bourke and Mahoney have also been in good touch with the Falcons.
Tomorrow’s trial game against Vic Metro consists of six quarters and starts at 11am.