in 2014, Bendigo’s Billy Evans has played a starring role as ruck-rover for Victoria Country at the national under-18 championships and for the Bendigo Bank Pioneers.
Evans played all six matches for Victoria Country, which included beating Victoria Metro twice.
A personal highlight was the second-round clash with South Australia at AAMI Park in Adelaide.
Although the Vics were beaten on that occasion, Evans racked up plenty of possessions at the centre bounces and stoppages.
His play for the Pioneers in the early rounds of this TAC Cup under-18s season and at selection trials caught the attention of Victoria Country coach Mark Ellis from Bendigo, and the selectors.
Evans said on Thursday the move to a midfield role had been a great challenge.
“Most of my first year with the Pioneers was at half-forward, with a run on the ball for a short time,” Evans said.
“Going into this season David Newett (Pioneers coach) spoke about playing a lot more time in the midfield.
“It meant a lot of running in pre-season and specific work around stoppages and centre bounces.”
Evans is now focused on this Sunday’s challenge with the young stars from the Northern Territory.
“Matches against teams in the national championships were quicker than TAC Cup.”
The pace of the Northern Territory team will test all of the Pioneers on their home turf at Queen Elizabeth Oval.
Bendigo teamed well to beat NSW-ACT in the clash at Mildura earlier in the season.
Having Evans back in the line-up is a huge plus for the Pioneers.
He said winning at stoppages would be a key to the Pioneers chances of beating NT.
Evans said there had been and was still a lot to learn about playing in the midfield.
“Being a bigger-bodied player does help in the contests, but it’s knowing when to and where to run that’s just as important.”
He has not modelled his game on any particular AFL player, but likes the way Sydney Swans onballer Josh Kennedy attacks and wins a lot of contests.
“The intensity he plays at is incredible.”
Evans did not start playing Aussie Rules competitively until he was in year 7.
“I played soccer with Golden City until grade six.”
His first matches were with Kennington-Sandhurst Junior Football Club’s under-13s.
“I played three or four grading games with Kennington-Sandhurst and really enjoyed it.”
Aussie Rules had been a big part of family life as Billy reguarly kicked the footy with his dad, Mark.
These days it’s Billy’s parents Mark and Joanne who are watching him rack up the kicks, marks, handballs and more.
Billly’s younger brother, Riley is playing with Sandhurst Junior Football Club.
As this season rolls on, Billy Evans said the aim was to keep playing at a consistent level.
As a second-year player in the TAC Cup, Evans said knowing what to expect in pre-season and matches had made it easier to adjust to the demands of playing in such a high level of competition as well as completing year 12 at Catholic College Bendigo.