BDCA to face defending champs in Country Week opener

BENDIGO has a tough start to February’s annual Melbourne Country Week carnival, with a game against defending champions Geelong on day one.

The carnival begins on February 18, with Bendigo to take on Geelong at Altona.

As well as the clash with Geelong, Bendigo will also take on South West, Mornington-Peninsula and Leongatha in its Country Week matches.

Bendigo finished sixth in Provincial Group last season with one win, one loss and two draws.

Bendigo coach Max Taylor said he welcomed the challenge of taking on defending premiers Geelong in the first game.

“It’s a great challenge to be taking on the team that won it last year first-up,” Taylor said yesterday.

“Obviously, it would be a fantastic boost if you could beat the defending champions on day one.

“But I also look at it that if they happen to beat us, we’ve got them out of the way and we still have the chance to win three games to get through to the final.”

Bendigo’s Country Week squad is yet to be finalised.

The team will be captained by Kangaroo Flat’s Adam Burns, who will embark on his fifth campaign as skipper.

With the squad yet to be finalised, players wanting to put their hand up for selection have the opportunity to impress as the BDCA is about to move into one-day mode.

This Saturday’s round eight games will be played as one-day matches.

The season will then resume after the Christmas-New Year break with three-straight one-day games.

The squad is expected to be finalised following the second one-day game after the break, with the only warm-up match to be against Ballarat on February 3.

“There’s still a few spots we’re not settled on, so we’ll be having a look at the form of players over the one-day games coming up before we make a final decision on the squad,” Taylor said.

● Bendigo’s Melbourne County Week draw:

February 18: v Geelong at Altona.

February 19: v South West at Kew.

February 20: v Mornington Peninsula at Melbourne University.

February 21: v Leongatha at Moorabbin.

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