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Vic Country calls for Pioneers quartet

In form: Tongala’s Harley Reid is one of four talented footballers from the regions set to don the Victoria Country guernsey at the upcoming NAB AFL under-18 championships. Photo: Steve Huntley. Photo by Steve Huntley

AFL Victoria has finalised its squads for the NAB AFL under-18 championships, with a star Bendigo Pioneers quartet named in Victoria Country’s 28-player squad.

Harley Reid (Tongala), Charlie Barnett (Kyabram), and Echuca duo Jed Brereton and Noah Long will face off against the best young footballers in the country following a successful turn in previous trial games against Victoria Metro.

Tongala talent and NAB AFL Academy member Harley Reid has been rewarded for a stellar run of form with the Bendigo Pioneers with his second selection for the Big V.

Pioneers coach Danny O’Bree said Reid had strung together a rich vein of form in the last month, with his most recent performance a 28 disposal, 12 mark showing against Murray Bushrangers.

“Credit to him, he has worked really hard, particularly in the last month,” O’Bree said.

“He’s becoming a good leader within our group as a bottom-ager; He’s really starting to immerse himself in the program.

“It’s starting to show on the field now, his last two games he’s been best on in two or three different roles.

“We challenged him last week (against Murray Bushrangers) by playing him across half-back, something he hasn’t done previously.

“As he progresses with his fitness he’s going to be a genuine on-baller. He’s so good around the contest, he loves the contact, he loves competing for the footy.”

Brereton was impressive in the trial matches to earn his spot in the squad.

“He’s been playing as a key back; we’ve got a bit of interest in him as a key defensive post,” O’Bree said.

“He had a really good game in the Vic Country trials, which obviously saw him selected. He’s still learning and developing but he’s taking the right steps forward.”

Long, a co-captain of last year’s under-17 Vic Country side, made his return from injury in the trial matches to also book his place at the championships.

Barnett shapes as an interesting prospect at the championships, with O’Bree crediting the young gun from Kyabram for a transformative change in his fitness that has seen him rise through the ranks.

“Last year I felt he wasn’t fit enough and needed to do a fair bit of work,” O’Bree said.

“Credit to Charlie, he’s got himself in unbelievable physical condition and done a power of work.

“It really showed in the Vic Country trials; his GPS reading was easily the best.

“He’s an exceptional kick of the footy and an excellent decision maker.”

Vic Country faces South Australia at Thebarton Oval this Sunday, June 26 from 1.30pm before facing Allies and Western Australia in the following weeks.

Country will then face Vic Metro in a showpiece clash on the AFL Grand Final eve public holiday on Friday, September 23 in Melbourne.