"RELAX, enjoy the day and make the most of the opportunity".
That's the advice of Loddon Valley captain Tyrone Downie to the contingent of young players making their inter-league debuts on Saturday.
Loddon Valley plays Horsham District at Horsham's City Oval in the 27 v 28 game of the AFL Victoria Community Championships.
Loddon Valley's team of 22 has six players aged 23 or under representing the league for the first time - Bailey George (20), Peter Rothacker (20), Tyler Romeril (22), Alex Pearson (23), Max Simpson (21) and Nathan Twigg (20).
Harry Gadsden (20) and Joe Mayes (23) also fall into the 23-and-under category, but were part of last year's team that defeated Golden Rivers by 44 points in Loddon Valley's inter-league return following a two-year hiatus.
While he now has a wealth of experience behind him - including a stint on the Gold Coast Suns' list as a rookie in 2015 - Downie fondly remembers his early inter-league experience that began representing Bendigo.
"Inter-league is a great concept. Looking back when I got the opportunity to first play for Bendigo, I was only 20 or so and what really made it for me was the chance to play with those older players that you looked up to," Downie said.
"To get a guernsey alongside the best players in the competition is certainly special. This time around I'm more near the end of my career, so the opportunity to work with some of the younger, talented players around the league is a good thing that I'm looking forward to.
"And it's always good to mix with players from other clubs and, hopefully, we can head over to Horsham and have a win."
READ MORE - SELECTION NIGHT - weekend football/netball teams
Downie says Loddon Valley has put together a team that is solid across all departments.
"We've got good flexibility in the side... there's plenty of six-foot two and three players across the board," Downie said.
"We've got a really strong backline, along with a really solid midfield and some handy forwards.
"By all reports, the ground over there is fairly large, so I think we'll be able to cover the ground pretty well.
"We don't know a lot about the Horsham District squad, but we think speed will be an asset for us."
The forward line features four strong marking targets in the experienced quartet of Downie, Darren Clutton, Lachlan Woodward and Ryan Wellington.
The backline includes two new recruits to the competition this year in Harry Graham and Alex Pearson, the ruck duties will be shared by Nathan Twigg and Justin Hynes, while the starting on-ballers are Terry Reeves, Billy Micevski and Jake Hall.
The side is being coached by Wayne Mitrovic, who has been a long-time supporter of inter-league football.
"Metro is a great fella and loves his footy. It's always great working with quality people and that's what he is," Downie said.
The Loddon Valley team features 17 players representing the league for the first time.
Horsham District, which beat Loddon Valley by 30 points in their last meeting in 2013, is being coached by Nick Pekin and had 34 players still pressing for spots at its final training session this week.
"Selection was really tough, but that was a great problem to have throughout the whole process," Pekin said.
Saturday's senior game starts at 2pm.
The two leagues will also clash in an under-18 match from noon, as well as open and 17-under netball.
LODDON VALLEY v HORSHAM DISTRICT
SENIOR FOOTBALL, 2pm:
B: J. Wiegard, M. Simpson, C. McLean
HB: J. Mayes, H. Graham, A. Pearson
C: P. Rothacker, T. Reeves, N. Waterson
HF: H. Gadsden, R. Wellington, L. Woodward
F: B. George, D. Clutton, T. Downie
R: N. Twigg, B. Micevski, J. Hall
INTER: J. Hynes, S. Moyle, T. Romeril, D. Clohesy
B: L. Middleton, B. Ervin, N. Byrne
HB: C. Deutscher, M. Butler, D. Folkes
C: P. Staude, S. Hobbs, S. Carey
HF: R. Folkes, S. Close, P. Weir
F: J. Cocks, N. Koenig, J. Gunn
R: J. Ryan, N. Pekin, E. Guthrue
INTER: R. Miller, T. Cooper, M. Healy, N. Clough
UNDER-18 FOOTBALL, noon:
B: J. Demeo, B. Moon, G. Reads
HB: J. Thompson, C. Flood, C. March
C: F. Millar, M. James, M. Roncheiri
HF: E. Caburnay, M. Maxey, D. McKinley
F: H. McKinley, J. Sinclair, K. Schepers
R: T. Brealey, N. Naughton, J. Worsley
Int: W. Stringer, J. Covington, J. Berry, M. Colston
Coach: Bill Higgs
AFL VICTORIA RANKINGS:
1 - Northern
2 - Geelong
3 - Ovens and Murray
4 - Mornington Peninsula
5 - Goulburn Valley
6 - Western Region
7 - Hampden
8 - Ballarat
9 - Outer East
10 - Bendigo
11 - Gippsland
12 - Central Murray
13 - Murray
14 - Wimmera
15 - Bellarine
16 - Geelong District
17 - Sunraysia
18 - Heathcote District
19 - Southern
20 - Riddell
21 - North Central
22 - Central Highlands
23 - West Gippsland
24 - Ellinbank District
25 - Maryborough-
26 - Colac District
27 - Horsham District
28 -Loddon Valley
29 - Kyabram District
30 - Golden Rivers
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