WARRACK Eagles teenager Dane Stewart has been included in the final squad for the Greater Western Victoria Rebels NAB State League team for the 2020 season.
After a lengthy summer season of training and trial games, Stewart was announced in the final 50-man squad to contest matches this season.
A strong display in the final trial game at Sebastopol saw the exciting utility earn his place and participated in a full scale practice match against Bendigo Pioneers last Sunday and will play a second game against Geelong Falcons on March 14 at Mars Stadium.
The Rebels first match of the season will be against Dandenong Stingrays at Mars Stadium on March 21.
Trialling with around 130 juniors from around the state that includes the Wimmera, South West, Goldfields and Hampden regions, the final squad was announced after three trial games and a training regime that started in November.
Stewart, with Lachie Stewart and Charlie Penny trained in Horsham before and after Christmas before taking part in the two trial games which saw Dane remain in a 55-man squad which was reduced to the final squad last weekend.
Although still eligible for Under 17s through the 2019 season, Stewart played out a full season of senior football with the Warrack Eagles and topped a strong season by being named the Rising Star for the Wimmera Football League and finishing fourth in the club best and fairest.
He will join other Wimmera footballers in Horsham Saints players Gage Wright, Sam Breuer, Cody Bryan, Horsham’s Ben Hobbs, Nhill’s Drew Schneider and Ararat’s Jeziah Woods.
It has been a long pre-season but GWV Rebels Head Coach and AFL Regional Coaching Director, Marc Greig is excited to have the initial NAB League Boys Squad now to work with prior to season start.
“It’s been a very enjoyable preseason, as we invite around 130 Under-18 football players in from across Western Victoria and we know at the end of the day there is abundance of talented players all pursuing a GWV Rebels NAB League opportunity.
“It was a difficult process to select our Preseason Squad invitations but a more difficult process to decide on our NAB League Boys Squad for 2020 due to the impressive Talent across Western Victoria.
We congratulate the players that have made the Squad but we also feel for the unfortunate players that have missed but we are very confident that these players from being involved and training at a high intensity with our Program they will all go back to their local clubs further developed both on and off the ground and have set themselves up for a good season this year and into the future.”
Marc Greig is bullish about the development opportunities that will come for the 50 players lucky enough to be part of the 2020 GWV Rebels NAB League Boys squad.
“For the players that have made it through, we can put more work into each individual as our role is to develop the individual player over the course of the year.”
After being quizzed on the difficulty of narrowing down the squad to 50 players, Greig said “It’s very tricky, its much different than picking a local or interleague side. The NAB League is a development competition and that brings the challenge of deciding between so many similar players that share the same traits.”
“The challenge is using the information that we have like testing results and Match Day vision and we certainly monitor closely how the boys train and how regularly they are hitting the track and doing the extra work, and then how they perform in our high intensity trial games”
The squad of 2020 is very young one with 28 (u17) bottom age players, over half the squad. The squad also features four 19-year-old overage players and five boys that involved in the AFL Victoria Country Academy program. With all that raw talent, Greig absolutely believes his team can band together come Round One on March 21st at MARS Stadium when the side takes on the Dandenong Stingrays.
“We’re really excited about the group for season 2020. We have our camp this weekend which will see the players involved in an AFL Testing and Education Day, team building exercises and we will get the boys out of their comfort zone so we believe we have a great group that will work hard and play for each other.”
Stewart will continue a strong association with the Rebels who have had a number of Warrack Eagles juniors represent the team over the years including Matt Rosa, Nick Peters, Clayton Hinkley, Kyle Cheney, Ryan McKenzie, Charlie Wilson and Josh Bibby.
The Under 16 Rebels training squad also included three Warrack Eagles juniors in Dylan Watts, Josiah Keam and Daniel Penny who also participated in two trial games after a training regime before and after Christmas.