State vs. State has long been part of the football codes in this country. In rugby league, the fierce rivalry between Queensland and New South Wales has always been their drawing card during the year.
At AFL level, State of Origin footy has been defunct since 1999 after a long and storied history. However, the VAFA has maintained the tradition of the Big V since 1925 and this weekend travel to South Australia to take on the Adelaide Footy League in a mouth-watering clash at Aldi Arena.
The VAFA squad of 40 was released on May 7 and has now been reduced to 30 with the final 22 to be named at an official jumper presentation tonight.
George Burbury (Collegians) has been named the captain of the Big V side for the second year in a row while Tom Paule (Old Melburnians skipper) has been named the vice-captain for the third year running.
Speaking exclusively to the VAFA Tragics this week, Tom Paule discussed his thoughts on the campaign and teaming up with those who he would regularly line up against at club level.
“It’s really nice to turn foe into friend for a period,” Paule said.
“I think all the guys who are part of the program would agree that you go out and beat each other up on the weekend but there’s a difference in the mutual respect you share once you play together. It does forge friendships across the teams in the league.”
Paule’s teammate at OM’s, Al Armstrong, has put together a stellar season in the opening nine rounds of the season with 19 goals and will line up in the forward line alongside Big V and Old Xaverians stalwart, Matt ‘Chopper’ Handley.
Armstrong, who kicked seven goals in an outstanding performance during last year’s win over AFL Victoria Country, spoke to the boys on For the Love of the Game podcast about the dynamic roaming the forward line alongside Chopper with the need to apply pressure paramount to the Big V’s success.
“We’ll have to work together and work out our strengths. Apply the pressure and make sure it doesn’t get out too easily,” he said.
An argument as to why there’s no longer State of Origin footy at the AFL level is due to the possibility that a player sustains an injury & misses games at club level. However, those representing the Big V realise the privilege it is to pull on the most recognizable jumper in Australian sport.
“It’s a real highlight, I’ve never played at a higher level, this is a challenge for me and I really enjoy it. Last year I played alongside Milney (Stephen Milne) who’s kicked over 500 AFL goals, that was special in itself,” Armstrong said.
There’s a lot of good players in there and really looking forward to jumping on a plane with them all.”
For Tom Paule and the members of the team who represented the Big V in 2016 against Adelaide, this is a chance to get one back over the old foe on their home deck.
“A little bit of redemption,” he said.
“That South Australian team lay and waited for us, they really prepared, they loaded their list and they were really happy with themselves at the end of the game.
There was a bit of pride that was hurt and it’s a good chance to get them back.”
Keep up to date with everything happening in the VAFA on VAFA Tragics released every Tuesday with Andrew Leonard and Nick Armistead + the VAFA’s official podcast For The Love of the Game released Wednesday afternoon’s with Joe Pignataro, Nick Armistead and Brian Waldron.