BY NATHAN DOLE
BENDIGO Pioneers clubmates Archer Day-Wicks, Jobe Shanahan and Tobie Travaglia will be in action on AFL grand final day at the MCG.
The talented trio have been selected for the AFL Futures Match as the curtain-raiser t to clash between Collingwood and Brisbane Lions.
Many of the country’s top prospects in the under-17 age group have been selected in teams of 23.
A week after lining up for Sandhurst in the Bendigo Bank Bendigo FNL senior footy grand final, Day-Wicks now heads to the MCG for the game’s biggest day of the year.
In an on-ball role or attack, Day-Wicks has a damaging left-foot and great skills in the air.
He represented Victoria Country against Western Australia in this year’s AFL national under-18 championships and also played seven matches for the Latrobe University Bendigo Pioneers in the Coates Talent League.
Highs on his stats sheets were 18 disposals, four marks and a goal per game.
A clubmate of Day-Wicks at the Pioneers and Sandhurst, Tobie Travaglia showed a lot of courage from a wing or across half-back.
Although he is lightly-framed, Travaglia is strong in the contest, plenty of running power and superb foot skills.
Travaglia played his first Talent League under-18s match as a 15-year-old last season and this year became a key member of the Pioneers line-up.
Versatility and marking power are two of the strongest traits of Jobe Shanahan’s game.
At 192cm, Shanahan has shown a lot of potential in attack or defence, and also had stints in midfield.
The Moama teenager represented The Allies on its way to winning this year’s national under-18s championship.
The teams for Saturday’s match are named after Geelong’s four-time premiership-winning star Joel Selwood from Bendigo, and recently-retired West Coast Eagles ruckman Nic Naitanui.
Some sons of guns will play in this Futures Match.
Among them are South Australia’s Ben and Lucas Camporeale, Louie Montgomery and Tyler Welsh.
Another to watch is Levi Ashcroft, younger brother of Will who was runner-up for this year’s AFL Rising Star award.
All players in the sixth annual AFL Futures match will be eligible for selection in the 2024 AFL draft and will be pressing their case in selection for next year’s AFL Academy boys program.
The AFL National Academy manager is Tarkyn Lockyer who played 227 matches for Collingwood, which included the 2002 grand final against Brisbane Lions.
The AFL Futures squad will assemble in Melbourne on Friday and have a training session at Essendon Football Club’s headquarters, aka The Hangar in Tullamarine.
Saturday’s AFL Futures match will be broadcast live and free on the AFL website and AFL Live Official App.
This year marks the 22nd anniversary since the Bendigo Pioneers took on Calder Cannons in the TAC Cup under-18s grand final.
A Calder line-up which included Dane Swan, Ryan Crowley, James Kelly, David Rodan and Andrew Welsh won by 37 points.
The Rod Macpherson-coached Bendigo Pioneers line-up included six players who were drafted to AFL clubs.
Among them were West Coast Eagles premiership player Adam Selwood, Hawthorn premiership wingman Rick Ladson, St Kilda and North Melbourne on-baller Nick Dal Santo, and Brisbane Lions midfielder Troy Selwood.
Also selected by AFL clubs were Daniel Elstone to Hawthorn, and Josh Thewlis to Sydney Swans.
The Pioneers’ grand final team of 2001 included Simon Rosa, Aaron Connaughton, Brad Eaton and Luke Guerra.
Off-field the Pioneers regional manager was Ray Byrne who knew plenty about grand finals.
Byrne contested four VFL grand finals -’73 with Carlton, and ’79, ’80 and ’81 with Collingwood and racked up a 14-year stint with the Pioneers.