Saints receive state call up

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Saints receive state call up

Two Millicent footballers have been named in the 24-player South Australian Country squad to tackle Western Australia in Perth.

SANFL announced Clint Gallio and Kade Varcoe as part of the squad to head west on Saturday to play at Optus Stadium as a curtain-raiser for the Fremantle v Sydney AFL clash.

They will be joined by Kowree-Naracoorte Tatiara players Campbell Watts from Kingston and Naracoorte’s Rory Taggert and Matt Willson.

The highly-anticipated rivalry between the regional Croweaters and Sandgropers was renewed last year after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

SA Country, coached by Central District great and former Sturt mentor Rick Macgowan, is largely made up of the players selected in the Team of the Championships at the 2023 Think! Road Safety SA Country Championships in the Barossa.

“We are thrilled to have the great tradition of State Country football continue, in a rivalry which has continued to build since 2011,” SANFL Head of Community Football Shawn Ford said.

“This match is always a great showcase of SA and WA’s best regional players, and a unique opportunity for them to play on the world-class Optus Stadium on an AFL match day.”

Featuring as many as nine players from the victorious Eastern Zone line-up, SA also boasts plenty of players with SANFL experience.

Former Sturt ball magnet Sam Colquhoun – who also played in the AFL with Port Adelaide – heads the list while Eastern’s Josh Smithson and Southern’s Riley Clamp are currently members of the Crows’ SANFL squad.

Ex-Double Blues Rory Taggert and Jack Penfold should provide plenty of bite around the ball while Caleb Edmead, who lined up with Central District in the SANFL, will be one to watch after winning the Leading Goal Kicker Award at last weekend’s Country Championships.

The Croweaters’ squad will be trimmed to 23 before it makes the journey across the Nullarbor.

The squad is selected by an SA Country panel, led by Macgowan and his assistant coaches, with a pre-requisite for selection being participation in the 2023 Think! Road Safety Country Championships.

SA will be desperate to maintain its strong record against the Sandgropers, with the Croweaters boasting a 7-2 win-loss record in head-to-head meetings since 2011.

Hosting WA at Adelaide Oval last year, SA recorded a comfortable 27-point win after leading at every change.

The Barry Stringer Medal will be awarded to SA’s best player in the match, with South East’s Willson getting the nod last year.

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