THIS year’s Bendigo Pioneers include no less than eight talented footy players from Echuca and Moama.
Five players were picked for the under-18s side, and the other three for the Pioneers under-16s TAC Cup squad, which begins its season at the end of the month.
They are joined by 52 other players on the Pioneers’ list, which includes 26 bottom-age players, 28 top-age and four 19-year-olds.
The final list of 58 was decided after a huge starting squad of nearly 150 initially trialled for the spots.
Both the under-18 and under-16 teams will play their first games of the season against the Greater Western Victoria Rebels in Ballarat on March 24.
The Pioneers will follow that match up with the local derby against the Murray Bushrangers in round two at Deakin Reserve, and will play the Gippsland Power in the third round.
The Pioneers had a season to forget last year, losing 15 of their 18 normal season matches.
They finished bottom of the ladder with 12 points, while opponents the Rebels did not do much better, with five wins and a draw from their 18 matches.
The Rebels finished the season in 11th place. Pioneers coach Rick Coburn was contacted for comment by the Riv.
Under-18s from Echuca-Moama: Brodie Kemp (Echuca), Matt Lias (Echuca), Liam Tenace (Echuca), Jack McHale (Moama), Noah Wheeler (Moama).
Under-16s from Echuca-Moama: Jack Evans (Echuca), Joe Guiney (Echuca), Riley Smith (Echuca).