By ZAC MILBANK
SA Country coach Rick Macgowan is eager to instill the State pride into his side when it confronts WA Country at Adelaide Oval on Saturday afternoon.
A highly-credentialed SANFL player and coach with Central District and Sturt, Macgowan has been impressed with the players’ desperation to pull on the cherished red guernsey for the first time in three years.
Speaking on SANFL Radio, Macgowan said reigniting the annual battle between the regional Croweaters and Sandgropers was vital in keeping the overall concept of State footy alive.
”It’s important for our State as we are starved of State football,” Macgowan said.
”Obviously State of Origin is a long way off and while we understand it’s not at the level of AFL, these guys will play with great passion and put on a great show.
”Hopefully plenty (of people) come along to witness that.”
After pouring over plenty of vision, Macgowan and his selection panel have finalised a 23-man outfit which includes plenty of SANFL-experienced players for the AFL curtain-raiser which begins at 4.05pm.
Key positions players Tom Whittlesea (Woodville-West Torrens/South Adelaide), Aseri Raikiwasa (Port Adelaide) and Ben Edwards (Glenelg/Port Adelaide) will present Macgowan with flexibility given their ability to play at either end of the ground.
Former Central District pair Steve Burton and Flynn Pisani, Eagles utility Giles Ellis and Adelaide SANFL player Sam Tharaldsen also boast experience at State League level.
But Macgowan, originally from Darke Peake on the Eyre Peninsula, said there are several younger gems in his line-up who could be unearthed before the contest between Adelaide and Carlton.
Having coached Sturt in 2007 and 2008 before crossing to be one of Alastair Clarkson’s assistants at Hawthorn in 2009 and 2010, Macgowan jumped at the chance to be involved in the SA Country program and didn’t rule out returning to SANFL ranks in the long-term.
SA will be desperate to return to the winners list against their foe from across the Nullarbor, having succumbed to WA by nine points in Perth in their last meeting in 2019.
|1||Jack Kenny||Eastern Ranges||Eyre Peninsula|
|2||Ben Edwards||CMS Crows||Central|
|3||Brayden Kain||South Gambier||South East|
|4||Shane Ballantyne||Southern Flinders||Northern|
|5||Tom Whittlesea||Bordertown||South East|
|6||Flynn Pisani||South Gawler||Central|
|7||Matt Willson||Naracoorte||South East|
|8||Jordan Clements||Marble Range||Eyre Peninsula|
|9||Steve Jackson||Weeroona Bay||Northern|
|11||Aseri Raikiwasa||Ports||Eyre Peninsula|
|12||Todd Reid||South Gambier||South East|
|13||Sam Tharaldsen||Flagstaff Hill||Southern Districts|
|14||Zane Montgomerie||Elliston Districts||Eyre Peninsula|
|15||Daniel Perks||Tailem Bend||Eastern|
|16||Mark Marriott||Hatherleigh||South East|
|17||Pat Davies||Kalangadoo||South East|
|18||Steve Burton||South Gawler||Central|
|19||Jed Woolford||Marble Range||Eyre Peninsula|
|20||Frazer Bradley||Millicent||South East|
|21||Murphy Short||CMS Crows||Central|
|22||Matt Crettenden||United Yeelanna||Eyre Peninsula|
|23||Jaxon Bennett||Marble Range||Eyre Peninsula|
Sign up to see all the news from around the SANFL each week – directly in your inbox!