Six players who represented the VAFA on the 2017 Ireland Tour will don the Big V again this weekend in both the B-Div 4 and U19 matches at Trevor Barker Oval and Mars Stadium, respectively.
Michael Culliver (VC) (Westbourne Grammarians), Manny Dolan (St Mary’s Salesian), Christian Carnovale (Hampton Rovers), Nick Reeves-Smyth (Old Ivanhoe) and Jock Grimshaw (Old Geelong) will each line up against the WAAFL at Trevor Barker Oval tomorrow, while Luke Di Lizio (St Bernard’s) will form part of the U19’s team aiming to end a four-game losing streak against AFL Victoria Country on Sunday.
One of the most important aspects of any representative program is the ability to galvanise a group of players from a myriad of clubs and sections over a short one-month period. Players are selected because they are talented so their ability to understand their teammates is paramount to any potential success. It is made even more difficult when the final 22 comes from a pool of 6500 players and only two heil from the same club (Max Ellis and Tom O’Donnell from Fitzroy).
The importance of having five who have not just played together before, but shared life experiences while representing their Association, is immeasurable. Before training commenced last month, those five players in the B-Div 4 squad already understood their Ireland Tour teammates, their strengths, potential weaknesses and tendencies under pressure.
Despite coming from different sections, their bonds were evident and allowed fellow squad members an easier transition into Big V training due to their understanding of what it takes to bring a group of individuals together.
Big V Ireland coach and senior assistant, Dave Murray, believes the relationships created in Ireland will only serve to assist the galvanisation of the B-Div 4 team this weekend under the outstanding leadership of Big V champion Russell Barnes.
“Each of the six players selected for this weekend’s games embodied exactly what it means to pull on a Big V jumper in Ireland,” he said.
“The mateship they displayed off-field and synergy on-field was of the highest order. Everyone played their role and created an inclusive culture for all players from all sections.”
The six players representing the Big V this weekend will join George Burbury (Collegians), Sam Hibbins (Collegians), Lochy Dornauf (Uni Blacks) and Al Armstrong (Old Melburnians) as 2017 Ireland Tour players to have backed it up with Big V selections in 2018 after those four formed part of the senior squad who defeated South Australia last month.
The B-Div 4 Big V side will clash with the WAAFL tomorrow at Trevor Barker Oval from 2pm, while the U19’s face AFL Vic Country in Ballarat at 11:30am on Sunday.