Storm depth tested in grand final rematch

STRATHFIELDSAYE'S depth faces a season-opening test when it hosts Golden Square in Sunday's Bendigo Football League stand-alone grand final rematch.

The Storm will be far from full-strength for the clash at Flight Centre Park, with Lachlan Sharp (arm), Lachlan Bonney (groin), Tom Batholomew (knee), captain Shannon Geary (calf), Leigh Prior (unavailable), Ben Lester (ankle) and Sam Mildren (back) all missing on Sunday.

Shaun Everington (ankle) also has to pass a fitness test to take his place in the team.

Yet such is the spread of talent at the Storm, for all the key outs in the Strathfieldsaye side, it will still field an imposing round one team against the five-time defending premiers.

"You're always going to get injuries. Unfortunately, we've got them early, but it's exciting for the group that will gets its chance on Sunday," Storm coach Darryl Wilson said on Friday.

"Both teams will be vastly different to last year's grand final, but we think we'll be reasonably potent up forward, so it will be a matter of our midfield getting enough ball to get it into that group."

Two of the star attractions for Sunday's game is the BFL debuts of former St Kilda pair Stephen Milne and Steven Baker, who bring 478 games of AFL experience to Strathfieldsaye.

Milne has been named in a forward pocket and Baker on a half-forward flank.

"We're rapt to have them, but I think it's exciting for the Bendigo league that they have decided to continue their careers in our competition," Wilson said.

"They have both fitted well into the group and have great team ethics where it's not about them, it's about the team."

Golden Square's side includes only 11 of last year's team that defeated the Storm by 21 points in the grand final, 14.18 (102) to 12.9 (81).

Among the premiership players returning is one of the BFL's premier small defenders Clayton Anderson, who is likely to get first crack at Milne if he does line-up in the forward line as opposed to the midfield.

"We've had a really strong pre-season and we're confident we're well-prepared... we've got the boys focused in the right areas and we're really excited for this first game," returning Golden Square coach Nick Carter said.

"For us, there's no better test first-up than coming up against what's going to be one of the really good teams."

While Strathfieldsaye will have its two ex-AFL players in Milne and Baker playing, Golden Square will be missing its two - Corey Jones and last year's premiership coach Rick Ladson.

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