TOBY Mahony moved a step closer to his dream of playing AFL football this week, with the Camperdown local earning selection in Vic Country’s NAB AFL National Championships squad.
The 17 year-old, who is currently representing the Greater Western Victoria Rebels in the NAB League, will have the opportunity to pull on the Big V in upcoming games at the championships, which kick off on June 1.
Mahony was one of five Rebels selected in the squad and will be joined by another Western District resident, with Terang Mortlake’s Isaac Wareham also picked.
He said he was “very privileged to make it” after earlier eyeing off selection and said he was thrilled to receive the chance to play with and against some of the nation’s best underage footballers.
“You come into a footy season wanting to play the highest footy you can and wanting to make the elite squads, so I did want to make it and I’m glad I have now,” Mahony said.
“There are a lot of good players getting around at the moment and I just feel good to be one of those to get selected but there’s still a lot of work to go.”
The championships will consist of four games for Vic Country, with their opening match against Vic Metro to be played at the MCG, before they head interstate to clash with the Allies in Launceston on June 9.
They then round out the championships with matches against South Australia at Geelong’s GMHBA Stadium on June 28 and Western Australia on July 3 at Marvel Stadium.
Mahony said he was looking forward to playing on elite AFL venues.
“They’re the best grounds in the country and you want to play on them but I suppose Mars Stadium in Ballarat is top standard at the moment so it won’t be much different,” he said.
“But just (playing on) the stadiums and the feeling of being on an AFL arena will be really surreal.”
Preparations for the opening round will commence this Sunday, with the squad to play a trial game against the Allies at IKON Park.
Mahony is likely to play as a tall midfielder throughout the championships when picked and said selection will likely be based on performances in the trial game and NAB League matches.
He admitted he is set to enter the championships on the back of some good recent form, having produced a break-out game two weeks ago for the Rebels against the Northern Knights.
On that occasion, he kicked three goals and had 20 possessions to be named among the Rebels’ best.
“I started the year off a bit shaky but then a few rounds in I got a bit better and I’m just slowly building,” Mahony said.