The 2018 U18 Vic Metro squad has been finalised for 2018, with Northern Knights’ Mark Baker, Tom Hallebone, Tom McKenzie and Ryan Gardner all being selected to play next month at the NAB AFL U18 Championships.
Northern Knights’ Talent manager, Rhy Gieschen says that metro selection is ‘great recognition for individuals who have had quality seasons.’
“The beauty of all 4 players is they are all extremely team orientated players who put the team first on and off the field.” Gieschen said.
“They all had fantastic pre-seasons and have worked tirelessly over their time at the Knights so it’s great to see them recognised.”
Among those selected is McKenzie and after a big season so far, he’s eager for the challenge.
“I’m looking forward to being able to test myself against the best talent across the country and pushing myself to new limits against the best, whilst representing my state.” McKenzie said.
The Knights’ ruckman, Hallebone, is very excited about the opportunity to play with and against some of the country’s finest footballers.
“It’s a great opportunity to play at the highest level against the best kids in the country.” Hallebone said.
After an injury interrupted couple of seasons, Gardner bounced back this year and continues to improve on a weekly basis thus rewarded with metro selection. Gieschen believes that he’ll use this selection to further enhance his game.
“The one thing we know about Gardner is that with his quality attitude he’ll take every opportunity to learn and keep improving and love the experience.” Gieschen said.
Currently averaging three tackles per game, playing forward and hitting out in the ruck Baker’s competitiveness and intensity has got him one step further than last year in the metro program.
Whilst it’s exciting for the boys who have been selected, Gieschen insists that for the players who have missed out on selection, continue representing the Knights strongly during this period and remain focused on their overall goal.
In 2016, Patrick Lipinski, Matt Signorello and Lachlan Murphy all missed out on the Vic Metro squad and are all now playing AFL football.
“For those players that missed out on the Metro there are some fantastic role models in recent times who have gone on to achieve the ultimate aim of everyone.” He said.
“It’s a great time of year to see which players who missed out on the squad can step up and become leaders and impact games of football.”
Vic Metro will play its first match against Western Australia at Optus Stadium, Perth on Sunday June 10 before facing the Allies (Saturday June 16th, Southport), Vic Country (Saturday June 24th, MCG) and South Australia (Wednesday July 4, Etihad Stadium).