NFNL senior men’s representative coach Garry Ramsay is confident the league will field the best available side in Saturday’s clash against the MPNFL.
The two leagues lock horns for the second time in three seasons when they meet at Preston City Oval from 2:00pm Saturday as part of the 2018 Worksafe AFL Victoria Community Championships.
With 14 members from last year’s victorious representative team named in this year’s 24-man squad, Ramsay is confident the NFNL can again produce a strong showing after last year romping to a 125-point win over the WRFL.
“We’ve had a few injuries unfortunately this year, but I think we’ve got the best available side playing,” Ramsay said.
“We think we’ve got some real strength in the midfield, enough goal kickers up forward and I think we’ve got a solid backline.
“We think we are really well rounded with the side we’ve got and there are definitely some specialist players in there who we expect to perform well.
“It makes my job a lot easier when many of the boys have played two and, for some, three times together.
“That gives me a lot of confidence that they like playing football with each other and play for the jumper as well. There is a really confidence there that they understand the way that we want to play.”
The stakes are high on Saturday, with the winner to be elevated to the top-billed game in 2019 against either the Geelong Football Netball League or Eastern Football League.
It was the same situation when the leagues met back in 2016 – with the MPNFL victorious by 30 points on that occasion.
Ramsay is confident the NFNL can reverse the result this time around.
“That’s a really big carrot for our players, as well as for me and our coaching staff, to be part of something that leads to a chance to play in the 1-2 game next year,” he said.
“That’s something that is motivating everyone.
“I watched the game two years ago when we played (MPNFL) and I found them to be a very enthusiastic group.
“They’re very hard at the ball and look a very tough unit – but all of them look very close. We will have to match that and even lift that to make sure we are hard at the ball and bring real enthusiasm to the contest.”
Montmorency on-baller Jesse Donaldson will lead the NFNL solo this year after three-time Frank Rosbrook medallist Matthew Dennis was forced to withdraw through injury.
Donaldson and Dennis have shared the captaincy over the past two years, however Ramsay is adamant the side won’t be lacking any leadership, despite the absence of Dennis.
“Leadership certainly won’t be a problem.” Ramsay said.
“We’ve got Josh Grabowski and Justin White in supporting roles as vice captains, but there are also other club captains and leaders who are playing as well.
“There are blokes who have played a lot of footy and guys who have played VFL footy too, so I think there is a lot of natural leadership there anyway.”
To view the 2018 NFNL senior men’s representative squad, please click on the link below.