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Melbourne Football Club

Melbourne names first NAB Challenge squad

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 19: Clayton Oliver (left) and Angus Brayshaw of the Demons compete for the ball during the Melbourne Demons intra-club match at Casey Fields in Melbourne on February 19, 2016. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 19: Clayton Oliver (left) and Angus Brayshaw of the Demons compete for the ball during the Melbourne Demons intra-club match at Casey Fields in Melbourne on February 19, 2016. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)

MELBOURNE has named four new recruits in its 29-man squad for its first NAB Challenge match against Port Adelaide at Playford Alive Oval on Saturday.

Draftees Clayton Oliver and Josh Wagner have been named for their first appearances in red and blue, alongside fellow recruits Tom Bugg and Ben Kennedy.

 “It’s pleasing to see some new faces in the team for our first NAB Challenge game against Port Adelaide,” general manager of football operations Josh Mahoney told melbournefc.com.au.

“As we’ve said previously, we wanted to play our best team available throughout this NAB Challenge period and we’re pleased with the squad we’ve been able to pick for the first game.”

Oliver, who was drafted with Melbourne’s first pick (no. 4 overall) and mature-age rookie Wagner, who was selected in the 2015 rookie draft, were both selected after showing impressive signs throughout the pre-season.

“Clayton Oliver has been on a modified program throughout pre-season but he’s already showed the attributes that were why we brought him into the club, with his work around stoppages, and we look forward to seeing him play throughout this period,” Mahoney said.

“Josh Wagner was taken as a mature age player from Queensland.

“The benefit of being a little bit older than our other draftees has allowed him to do a lot more of the program over pre-season and he’s impressed us, particularly with his skills off half back.”

Kennedy and Bugg, recruited from Collingwood and GWS Giants respectively, add further experience to the team, while third-year player Jayden Hunt is also among the inclusions, having completed a strong pre-season after two injury-interrupted years.

“Tom Bugg and Ben Kennedy were both brought to the club as players who had spent time at AFL clubs previously and we expect them to be able to play a role for us immediately,” Mahoney said.

“Jayden Hunt has been able to put a good book of training together, which we’d been hoping for, and he deserves his opportunity.

“We look forward to seeing him utilise the speed he’s been showing us at training.”

Captain Nathan Jones and 2015 best and fairest winner Bernie Vince will miss the game against Port Adelaide but are expected to feature later in the NAB Challenge.

“Bernie and Nathan won’t be playing this weekend,” Mahoney said.

“Both have niggling injuries but they were in full training today and we expect both of them to be available to play next week in Craigieburn against the Bulldogs.”

“The opportunity not having Bernie and Nathan in the side presents is that potentially some of our younger players will get a lot more minutes in the midfield, which we think will benefit them heading into the season.”

The squad will be trimmed to 26 players ahead of Saturday’s match.

 

Melbourne squad v Port Adelaide

1. Jesse Hogan

3. Christian Salem

4. Jack Watts

7. Jack Viney

10. Angus Brayshaw

11. Max Gawn

12. Dom Tyson

13. Clayton Oliver

14. Lynden Dunn

15. Billy Stretch

16. Dean Kent

17. Sam Frost

20. Colin Garland

21. Cameron Pedersen

22. Viv Michie

25. Tom McDonald

28. Oscar McDonald

29. Jayden Hunt

30. Alex Neal-Bullen

31. Jack Grimes

32. Tomas Bugg

35. Ben Kennedy

36. Jeff Garlett

37. Aaron vandenBerg

39. Neville Jetta

42. Josh Wagner

43. James Harmes

45. Matt Jones

46. Dean Terlich