It’s all or nothing for Queensland on Sunday when they take on Victoria Metro at Burpengary.
After the QAFL team was comfortably beaten by the VAFA in last year’s match, Queensland will be out for redemption this year.
Having the opportunity to pick players from all Queensland leagues, including the NEAFL, has meant access to a wider range of players.
“It’s a different group. Last year, the likes of Proud and Screech were unavailable because it was QAFL only. Now we have had access to better quality players,” Queensland coach David Lake said.
With the final squad now finalised, Lake is very confident in the 23 players ability to execute the game plan.
“It’s a role based game plan, and, and when you are happy with who you have selected, who are more likely to play the role required, you have got the right people,’ he said.
One of the biggest challenges these matches pose, is getting 23 blokes who play against each other most weekends, to bond together in a short amount of time.
Lake says the proof is already in the pudding that this has happened.
“They have been terrific. Mutual respect is an amazing thing,” Lake said.
“Whether you’re Robbie Copeland with two AFL flags under your belt, or you are young Matt Daniel, at 19, and a bit starry eyed, there is a mutual respect.
“They were in the same forward line on Wednesday night at training, working together, and I don’t think they ever asked each other where they had been.”
Last year, the VAFA kicked five goals in the first seven minutes, putting the QAFL team on the back foot from the start, something Lake will be ensuring doesn’t happen this year.
“The first quarter, the first 10 minutes, we struggled and never recovered, so we need to focus on those first 10 minutes to make sure that we get a good start,” he said.
“We will see if we can win the first quarter, and then break the game down into sections.”
With players like Matt Logan, Adam Clarke, Ryan Davey and co. running around, locking the ball in the forward 50 will be a real KPI of the team.
“I think our squad is pretty balanced, but certainly from our point of view, the ability to put midfield and forward pressure on is going to be a massive part of what makes our game plan work,” Lake said.
Lake expects a very Victorian style of football when they turn up on Sunday, quick movement from one end to the other.
“The ability to transition is very Victorian, we all know that,” Lake said.
Vic Metro coach Brian Royal said the focus these last few weeks has been internal, rather than looking at the Queensland team too much.
“From our point of view, because we don’t know much about Queensland and they don’t know much about us, I’m really focusing on us, how we play and what we do,” Royal said.
“Certainly once the game gets going, you’re going to get an understanding of who is hurting you. Game day coaching will be pretty important from that point of view,
but let’s get what we do right.
Like Lake, Royal said one of the biggest issues facing a representative team is uniting them.
“It’s always a challenge, we have only had them for four training sessions, but the boys have committed really well,” he said.
And he is very happy with the final team who will pull on the Big V on Sunday.
“We think we have selected 24 quality players, and we are really pleased with the way they have gone about it and the commitment they have made,” Royal said.
“We are really well balanced right across the field. We have got some really good experience and some really good young talent.
When you compare the squads, Vic Metro is a little bit smaller than their Queensland counterparts, which Royal thinks will help them on the open expanses at Burpengary.
“We have been a little bit conscious, on a bigger ground, in hotter conditions than we have encountered for quite some time, we didn’t want to go too big, we wanted to make sure we still had a bit of run,” he said.
The first quarter will be pivotal on Sunday. If Queensland start well, in reasonably warm conditions, the game should go the distance.
By Andrew Wiles – @andrewjwiles