Dejected Victorian players after losing to the SANFL last year. Picture: Tom Huntley.
A LENGTHY drought will be broken or history made when the Victorian Football League and West Australian Football League clash on Saturday at North Port Oval.
The VFL last triumphed in a representative match in 2012, when it thrashed the Tasmanian State League by 108 points, with its four-year winless run started by the WAFL in 2013.
Meanwhile, the WAFL has never won a state game in Victoria, beaten in 23 matches since it first took on the VFL on away soil in 1904.
Nine players with AFL experience will pull on the Big V jumper this weekend, including Cam O’Shea (Northern Blues), Eli Templeton (Port Melbourne) and Andrew Moore (Box Hill Hawks).
VFL coach Justin Plapp said his side’s variety would be one of its greatest strengths.
“I see Tommy Goodwin as a really pivotal person in our team, while Michael Gibbons is really passionate about playing state footy,” Plapp said.
“We don’t have a lot of key-position players so Jordan Lisle is really pivotal, as are VFL club leaders like Sam Darley.
“The key thing for me is that we have players prepared to play roles and be selfless, and we think we’re going to get that based on the character of guys in our squad.”
Recent state games have given prospective AFL players the chance to impress recruiters, with Kyle Hartigan (Adelaide), Kane Lambert (Richmond) and Tim Smith (Melbourne) among those to previously represent Victoria.
The WAFL squad includes former Bomber Leroy Jetta, ex-Carlton forward Blaine Johnson and former Eagle Tony Notte.
“We’re obviously expecting a certain style of play from the VFL on (North Port Oval) so we’ve taken the approach of selecting players in the roles we’re likely to need,” WAFL coach Michael Broadbridge said.
“Overall, with the size of the ground, the opposition, and the chance it could be a bit slippery, it means we’ve selected players with bigger bodies who are strong over the ball and strong at the contest, which we’ll look to complement with a bit of flair.
We’ve also looked at players who we think can adapt well, have some experience playing in the conditions against similar opposition and are mentally strong.”
The match starts at 2.10pm at North Port Oval.