READ MORE - SELECTION NIGHT - weekend football teams
FOUR players from the Bendigo Pioneers will be part of the Vic Country team chasing its first win over Vic Metro since 2015 when the AFL Under-18 Championships begin this weekend.
The Vic Country team that will take on its city counterparts at the MCG on Saturday features the Pioneers' quartet of Brodie Kemp, Brady Rowles, Thomson Dow and Ben Worme.
Pioneers coach Rick Coburn is also involved as the forwards coach.
The match will be played as a curtain-raiser to the AFL clash between Collingwood and Fremantle.
Kemp has been picked in the back pocket, Rowles on a wing, Dow as rover and Worme on the interchange.
"We as a club are really happy to have the four boys in the Vic Country team on Saturday and we've got a couple of others in the squad who could get a call-up at any stage through the championships," Coburn said on Friday.
The Vic Country squad of 41 players also includes Flynn Perez, who is sidelined with an ACL injury, James Schischka and Josh Treacy from the Pioneers.
The Vic Country team is coached by Leigh Brown, who earlier in the week labelled Rowles, from Mildura, as one of the players to watch.
"Brady Rowles has some electric pace and we want him to take the game on when he can and break the lines. We think his speed is going to be really important playing on a wing and behind the ball," Brown said.
The team will be co-captained by the Murray Bushrangers' Lachlan Ash and Gippsland Power's Caleb Serong.
Vic Country will also play the Allies in Tasmania on June 9, South Australia at Geelong on June 28 and Western Australia at Marvel Stadium on July 3 as part of the Under-18 Championships that showcase the country's best young talent in front of AFL recruiters.
As well as the four players in the Vic Country team on Saturday, the Pioneers also have Sean O'Farrell and Riley Clarke playing in an Under-19 Young Guns match on Sunday.
The AFL Victoria Young Guns Series pitting city against country features players from the NAB League and VFL aged under 22.
Meanwhile, the Pioneers will resume their NAB League season on Sunday with a trip to Williamstown's Downer Oval to play the Western Jets.
The Pioneers sit 12th on the ladder at 2-5, but that record doesn't do justice to just how competitive the Pioneers have been.
Of the five losses the Pioneers have suffered three have been by less than a kick.
"It has certainly been a challenge for the boys being on the wrong end of so many close results, but I also think they are taking a lot of confidence out of playing well against good sides and being the better team for parts of the game," Coburn said.
"Obviously, there's a few moments that we can do better going forward to make sure we start to get on the right side of results."
As well as the six players unavailable due to Vic Country and Young Guns opportunities, the Pioneers have also suffered an injury blow to their most consistent player in William Wallace (ankle).
The Jets (4-3) sit in seventh position.
Sunday's game starts at 1pm.
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