The 2017 U18 Vic Metro Squad has been finalised with the Northern Knights having received seven players in the squad’s final selection phase that will contest in the annual NAB AFL U18 Championships.
Knights Captain Nick Coffield is joined by Max Dreher, Joel Grace, Matthew Harman, Patrick Naish, Ethan Penrith and Jack Petruccelle in the 37 man squad. Additionally, Alex Federico and Marcus Lentini have been named as emergencies.
Knights Talent Manager Rhy Gieschen says everyone at the club is proud of the players’ achievements.
“For most of the players that come through the TAC Cup, one of their main goals is to represent Vic Metro in their top age year so it is a great achievement for those who made the squad. We have no doubt that they will all represent themselves, their families, the Knights, their schools and local clubs really proudly across the National Carnival and showcase their abilities to the football community.” Gieschen said.
“There are some really good stories of hard work and persistence paying off amongst the group of players that did make it. It puts a smile on all of the coaches and all the staff’s faces to see these kids work extremely hard and get some recognition. The coaching, high performance and medical staff from u15s through to u18s level have put a lot of time and effort into working to help develop these kids so it is good recognition for their efforts also.”
The Knights captain says that he is extremely proud of all of his Knights teammates.
“It’s a great reward for all of the hard work the boys have put in since September last year. Seven players is a fantastic result for the program and I know all the boys will play their part.” Coffield said.
Among those selections was 19-year-old Ruckman Matthew Harman, who was surprised when he got the call confirming his place in the squad.
“It’s an awesome feeling to be in the squad and to be with six of my best mates from the Knights makes it even better”, Harman said.
After a self-confessed average season last year, Fellow ruckman Joel Grace says he’s incredibly excited by the opportunity.
“I can’t wait to soak in all the knowledge from all the other players and coaches around the camp and improve my game and help me have a massive backend to the season for the Knights.” Grace said.
After successfully posting the highest beep test score at the TAC Cup Testing Day in March, Max Dreher feels that now his football is doing the talking as well.
“Being in the squad is really a great reward for all the hard work I did in the preseason and the start of the Knights season.” Dreher said.
“I hope with my time during the carnival I can continue to develop my skills as a footballer and test myself and enjoy playing against a higher standard of players.”
“Max Dreher has just worked and worked and it’s a credit to his dedication that he gets his opportunity. His pre-season was outstanding so it’s great to see him get this reward. Joel Grace has been super consistent for us this season and we are really looking forward to seeing him show this in the carnival. Every one of the players who have been selected have really earned the opportunity.” Gieschen commented.
Mark Baker, Alex Federico and Marcus Lentini all missed out on the final squad after the weekend’s final trial game, but Gieschen asks those players to remain focused on their main goal.
“For the players that missed out on the Vic Metro squad, whilst it is disappointing for them we are really looking forward to having them represent the Knights strongly during this period. 17 TAC Cup players who didn’t make Nationals squads made their way onto AFL lists in season 2016 including Patrick Lipinski and Matt Signorello so their dream certainly isn’t over.”
Vic Metro will play its first match against Western Australia at Domain Stadium, Perth on Sunday June 18 before facing Vic Country (Saturday June 24, Punt Road Oval), South Australia (Friday June 30, Etihad Stadium) and the Allies (Wednesday July 5, Simonds Stadium).