By Jarrod Potter
TAC CUP PREVIEW – ROUND 16
FULL strength Dandenong Stingrays.
It’s an awe-inspiring line-up coach Craig Black has at his disposal this week with the Stingrays’ TAC Cup ranks bolstered by the return of four elite schoolboys footballers.
The Stingrays head into Saturday morning’s clash against Oakleigh with probably one of its strongest line-up this season.
Such is the might of the side heading into the 2015 TAC Cup finals, that missing quartet Harry Prior, Jayden Bubb (both Frankston VFL), Bailey Rice (Northern VFL) and Jake Lovett (Casey VFL) are easily replaced from the power-packed list.
Dandenong’s back line is replete with five Vic Country representatives, four of them as national champions and two of those earning All Australians.
Another playing returning – Josh Battle – has just been selected as part of the AFL Academy side side to tour the USA later this year – a high-calibre breeding ground for elite draft prospects.
It would be downplaying the strength of the attack to not point out all these different avenues out of defence and especially towards goal as Dandenong barrels its way head-long towards September.
“I think it’s pretty exciting when you get your private schoolers back – Thomas Jok, Weitering, Collins and Battle – they’re pretty good inclusions for us,” Black said. “We’ve still got a few away – Lovett and Rice are still at VFL footy – but it’s a really good opportunity to get all of these players back with two or three rounds left before finals.The second placed Stingrays remain in the hunt for the minor premiership but at minimum will qualify for a double-chance with a win in any of its remaining three TAC Cup fixtures.
“Ideally you’d want to finish top four and guarantee two finals – it’s something we pride ourselves on to give them the biggest opportunity to showcase their talent,” Black said. “If we can do it that would be great, but obviously like everyone you do it one week at a time – but if we can do it a couple of rounds out it will help us with structures as we can throw some around.
Set to get his first run in the Stingrays’ colours is Berwick-recruit Reece Piper, whose under-age football resume is replete with success.
The former schoolboys/Vic Country under-16s representative midfielder has earned his debut for Dandenong on the back of solid form for the Blues – which has seen him get two senior appearances in a finals-bound South East Football League line-up.
With Piper not even turning 17 until the end of this year, making him the youngest player in the TAC Cup this season, Black believed the young midfielder has a chance to show his potential ahead of what will be bigger Stingrays’ seasons for him in future years.
“It’s a great opportunity -the 23rd player gives clubs a really good opportunity to play some 17-year-olds to give them a taste of footy,” Black said. “Reece has played under-16 Vic Country and we know he’s a talented footballer and it will give him a really good chance to see what TAC Cup footy is like.”
The match has been moved forward to a 10.30am start on account of four VWFL finals also scheduled at Shepley Oval on Saturday.
DANDENONG STINGRAYS LINE-UP – ROUND 16
B: Batten Collins GlenHB: White Weitering CapironC: Jok Cox HoldenHF: Battle Young WilliamsF: Gladman Freeman PoholkeR: Nyuon Mutimer Di PasqualeInt (from): Piper (23rd man) MacHaya Turnbull Kiely Prior Roscoe Kelly Z. Rouse