BENDIGO Pioneers defender Tom Cole has earned a call-up to Victoria Country's team for this Sunday's AFL national under-18 championships match against Victoria Metro in Geelong.
Cole will join Pioneers clubmate Billy Evans for the round-three clash at Simonds Stadium.
Victoria Country coach Mark Ellis said Cole was likely to play predominantly in defence.
"Tom's been in terrific form in defence and through the midfield for the Bendigo Pioneers," Ellis said.
"In the past few weeks he has played more in midfield and been really solid.
"Tom has a lot of strengths to his game. He is great at winning the ball and kicks well," Ellis said of watching Cole in Pioneers matches and in the selection trials for the under-18 titles.
A year ago and Cole played a key role for Victoria Country at the AFL national under-16 titles.
"This match is a great opportunity for Tom. He is still 16, so to be playing at under-18 nationals is great reward for all the work he has put in."
Ellis said Evans improved and impressed each game.
"Billy was our best player against South Australia last Sunday.
"He is going from strength-to-strength. Billy just wants to keep getting better.
"He is a quiet achiever who has worked hard on his fitness and skills."
Cole and Evans are both students at Catholic College Bendigo.
The record for Country and Metro after two of six matches to be played in the national under-18 titles is one win, one loss.
Victoria Country beat Victoria Metro by 15 points in their first-round clash at Sandringham.
Both have made several changes to their line-ups.
Sunday's match starts at 11am at Simonds Stadium in Geelong's Kardinia Park.