HAMPDEN football fans will get the chance to see one of the region's most promising players up close on the grand final stage.
George Stevens will play for South Warrnambool in the senior decider against North Warrnambool Eagles on Saturday, September 23 in what looms as the last chance for him to represent his home club before embarking on a professional career in November.
George, 18, has starred for Vic Country, GWV Rebels and Geelong's VFL team this season and has been unavailable for South Warrnambool selection until now.
South Warrnambool coach Mat Battistello said it was a special selection with the Coates Talent League team of the year member to play alongside older brother and VFL-listed midfielder Archie.
"There was a number of factors. It's very exciting to be truthful," he said.
"Archie and George are fully aware it's exciting for the Stevens family but a bit of their excitement is probably contained and focused on what they need to do."
The brothers, who played against each other during a Carlton VFL versus AFL Academy match earlier in 2023, will relish the chance to play together.
"For Archie, the silver lining for him with the (foot) injury meant he is available to play for us as well because without that injury he would've overqualified for Carlton's VFL," Battistello said.
Battistello said George, who can star as a big-bodied midfielder, forward option or in a defensive post, could "play a number of different roles for us".
"Our versatility is a bit of a strength to our side and he complements that as well," he said.
"We're certainly going to throw the magnets around a fair bit."
South Warrnambool, which will feature in the reserves and under 18.5 grand finals too, made the difficult decision to leave the hard-working Corey Gallichan out of its senior side.
Coates Talent League pair Luamon Lual and Wil Rantall, who were available to play seniors, will line up for the Roosters' under 18.5 outfit.
"Match committee felt like the one thing we haven't had throughout the year is continuity and the one thing we get for the first time is that so we're backing that in," Battistello said.
North Warrnambool Eagles plan to go into the decider unchanged with Fletcher Timms, Jarvis Bermingham and Jye O'Brien named as their emergencies.
Utility Luke Wines has managed a knee knock throughout the week but is expected to take his place.
"He had an MRI and was all clear and he's been getting treatment," coach Adam Dowie said.
"It's nothing too bad, it's just been a little bit of a challenge but he should be fine."
Battistello said his senior players had honed in on their task in the two weeks since winning their second semi-final and booking a grand final berth.
"North have good, seasoned bodies and they probably had to win their last two games to secure top-three so they probably feel like they've been in six finals-like performances," he said.
"Our boys are fresh and eager and we played Hamilton at the Reid so we've had a look at it a couple of times this year and we feel like it (the bigger ground) complements the way we play.
"We'll go in confident but self-aware of what we need to do."
Dowie believes the extra games could work "in our favour".
"It depends on what way you look at it - Batters is probably saying 'we're fresh' and I'm saying 'we're match-hardened'," he said.
South Warrnambool v North Warrnambool Eagles - 2pm, Saturday, Reid Oval
B: S.Thompson, I.Thomas, P.Anderson
HB: J.Mugavin, L.Mullen, H.Lee
C: J.Saunders, D.Nicholson, J.Henderson
HF: G.Stevens, N.Thompson, M.Irving
F: W.White, S.Beks, S.Kelly R: B.Rantall, A.Stevens, O.Bridgewater
Int: J.Dye, L.Youl, M.McCluggage, R.Henderson
North Warrnambool Eagles
B: L.Kenna, R.Scoble, J.Johnstone
HB: C.McKinnon, B.Jenkinson, J.Lewis
C: C.Grundy, J.Grundy, J.Bermingham
HF: L.Wines, A.Noske, T.Batten
F: F.Jones, N.Vardy, D.Parish
R: A.Wines, B.Mugavin, M.Wines
Int: T.Keast, H.Keast, D.Bermingham, J.Greene
Emg: F.Timms, I.owen, J.Bermingham, Z.Timms, J.O'Brien
South Warrnambool v Warrnambool - 12pm, Saturday, Reid Oval
B: B.Anderson, J.Hawkins
HB: X.Beks, S.Brown, S.Lucas
C: R.Thomas, T.Jenkins, S.Lenehan
HF: D.Hawkins, J.Folkes, M.Mavroudakis
F: K.Eagleson, T.Freitag, W.Owen
R: P.Doukas, C.Fenn, H.Walker
Int: B.Beks, J.Maher, X.Mitchem, T.Williamson
B: J.Foott, D.Hoffmann, S.Morgan
HB: A.Fedley, F.Radley, M.Holt
C: Z.Dwyer, S.Lampton, L.Worden
HF: M.Royals, J.Dowd, N.Cowan
F: A.Sztynda, N.Turland, H.Morgan-Morris
R: C.Hoffmann, C.Moncrieff, H.McNamara
Int: O.Everall, R.Fleming, T.O'Keeffe, I.Duerden
Warrnambool v South Warrnambool - 10am, Saturday, Reid Oval
B: B.grant, H.Artz, L.Cook
HB: F.McCoy, H.Fleming, J.Mahony - Gilchrist
C: S.Carter, R.Barnes, J.Wells
HF: E.Boyd, J.Dowling, S.Barker
F: J.Lewis, R.Mentha, R.Mast
R: A.Radley, R.Holloway, S.Niklaus
Int: A.Laidler, H.Martell, T.Gedye, N.Unwin
Emg: K.Brereton, P.Kenny, N.Brereton
B: A.Forsyth, H.Annett, C.Lynch
HB: R.Lucas, T.Powell, P.Akoch
C: L.Lual, B.Osborne, M.Porter
HF: W.Rantall, D.Bridgewater, D.Perera
F: R.Noseda, O.Harris, F.Wilkinson
R: H.Alexander, M.Wollermann, O.Smith
Int: C.Miller, S.Rhodes, J.McNeil, T.Atchison
Emg: S.Stacey, Z.Lenehan
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