Pioneers to light up QEO

The Rural Bank Bendigo Pioneers are pumped up to perform well in Friday night’s home clash with the Oakleigh Chargers at the QEO.

Night footy at the QEO is a rare opportunity for the Pioneers and coach Rick Coburn said his players couldn’t wait to get out there.

TURNING HEADS: Angus Schumacher has made a strong start to the season and has been named in the Victoria Country under-18 training squad.

TURNING HEADS: Angus Schumacher has made a strong start to the season and has been named in the Victoria Country under-18 training squad.

“The boys have commented this week about how great it is to play at the QEO and the night game adds that extra novelty,’’ Coburn said.

“Not many of our players have played many games, if any, at night and this is a great chance for them to showcase their skills.”

The Pioneers won’t field their strongest team because of school and AFL Academy commitments, but skipper Laine Fitzgerald and classy midfielder Kane Farrell make a welcome return to the side.

Rhys Mutch, the younger brother of Essendon draftee Kobe Mutch, will play for the Pioneers.

“Laine has been playing with GWS Academy the first three rounds and he’s jumping out of his skin to lead the boys on Friday night,’’ Coburn said.

“Kane Farrell is back from the AFL Academy after playing a game against the Northern Blues last weekend.

“Our boys from Geelong Grammar are back playing with Grammar, while Jye Caldwell is in New Zealand with the AFL Academy.

“We’ve got a side in and we’re looking forward to the challenge.”

Several of the Pioneers players played senior football with their home clubs over the Easter weekend and performed well.

“We’re really fortunate that the boys represented themselves and their clubs really well in senior footy last weekend,’’ Coburn said.

“That puts them in good stead to return to TAC Cup footy.”

Meanwhile, the Pioneers are well represented in this year’s Victoria Country training squads for the national championships. The Pioneers have 11 representatives in the under-18 boys extended training squad, nine in the under-16 boys and three in the under-18 girls.

Under-18 boys: Mitch Kemp, Darby Henderson, Angus Schumacher, Bailey Henderson, Brent Daniels, Kane Farrell, Lochie O’Brien, Lewin Davis, Paddy Dow, Jacob Atley and Jye Caldwell.

Under-18 girls: Aisling Tupper, Eden Zanker and Kodi Jacques.

Under-16 boys: Ethan Roberts, Zach Shelton, Will Wallace, James Schischka, Aaron Gundry, Liam Radcliffe, Thompson Dow, Riley Ironside, Brodie Kemp.

The 65-player Vic Country under-18 boys squad will be reduced in the lead-up to the  AFL U18 Championships. Country will face the Allies on June 11 (Blacktown, NSW), Vic Metro on June 24 (venue TBC), Western Australia on June 30 (Etihad Stadium) and South Australia on July 5 (Simonds Stadium).

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