54 players from 27 different clubs across the region have been named in the Bendigo Pioneers' 2022 NAB League boys squad.
Bendigo Football Netball League powers Strathfieldsaye, Sandhurst and Golden Square, plus Goulburn Valley Football League club Echuca provide 26 of the 54 players, with the Storm leading the way with eight representatives.
"We've cast our net far and wide and we probably invited a few extra to training this year after the interruptions to footy over the past couple of years,'' Pioneers' coach Danny O'Bree said.
"We have our regional hubs back up and going with some excellent staff and coaching in those areas.
"We feel as though we have a really good handle on the talent in our region."
The squad includes 10 19-year-olds, who get an extra season of development at NAB League level.
The 19-year-olds include Colbinabbin midfielder/forward Hugh Hamilton, former Leitchville-Gunbower - now Echuca - ruckman/key position player Jed Brereton and his team-mate Billy Barnes, Sandhurst's Harvey Gallagher and James Worme, Strathfieldsaye's Bode Stevens, Mitch Hallinan, Ethan Featherby and Woorinen's Lachlan Wright.
"We've probably stretched the number of 19-year-olds within our guidelines,'' O'Bree said.
"There's a lot of reasons for that. Every 19-year-old in our program is invovled in a VFL program at the moment whether it be intra-clubs or practice matches.
"We're quite excited about where our group is heading."
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The Pioneers have a strong involvement with Carlton's VFL program.
"Most of our 19-year-olds are heading to Carlton on Friday for a VFL practice match,'' O'Bree said.
"Jed Brereton is probably about the only one who is not playing because he has a broken thumb.
"We've also got nine staff going down to assist with the practice match.
"It's awesome for everyone that Carlton has given us this opportunity.
"It's great to strengthen our alignment with Carlton."
The Pioneers' boys start their 2022 season on Saturday, April 2, at the QEO.
There will be three matches played for the day against the Greater Western Victoria Rebels - the NAB League girls, under-16 boys and under-19 boys.
Bendigo Pioneers' squad:
Jason Gilbee (Balranald)
Jed Denahy (Castlemaine)
Hugh Hamilton (Caulfield Grammarians)
Charlie Hillier (Deniliquin Rams)
Raymond Murphy (Deniliquin Rovers)
Hayden Geddes, Will Burke (Donald)
Billy Barnes, Noah Long, Jed Brereton, Corbin Anderson, Sam Deola, Oliver Watt (Echuca)
Oliver Poole (Echuca United)
Bailey Cain, Hugh Freckleton, Harrison Kelly, Billy Meade, Zac Tickell (Golden Square)
Rhylee Gitsham (Kerang)
Charlie Barnett (Kyabram)
Ben Cameron, Angus Nolte (Kyneton)
Oskar Smartt (Leitchville-Gunbower)
Josh Goss (Mildura)
Patrick Kelly (Nullawil)
Sam O'Shannesy, Joel Grace (Ouyen)
Joseph Mezzatesta, Pala Kuma (Robinvale)
Harvey Gallagher, Michael Kiraly, Jacob Nihill, Nash Dignan, James Worme, Seb Morris, Tait Poyser (Sandhurst)
Taj Stevens (South Mildura)
Blake McGeggor, Bode Stevens Mitchell Hallinan, Harry Teasdale, Malik Gordan, Ethan Featherby, Riley Mulquinny, Caleb Kennedy (Strathfieldsaye)
Max Dow (Swan Hill)
Harley Reid (Tongala)
Ryan Domaille (Tooleybuc Manangatang)
Soloman McKay (Tyntynder)
Oskar Faulkhead (Wentworth)
Eli Pearce (White Hills)
Lachlan Wright, Nyawi Moore (Woorinen).
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