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Portland’s representative footballers still on track to play

THE state-wide NAB League has confirmed further changes to the planned 2020 home and away season with five of the competition’s 12 sides now expected to begin playing on August 22.

In mid-June, AFL Victoria announced the splitting of the NAB League into two conferences, country and metropolitan, with a six-round home and away season taking place before a grand final featuring the two highest-placed teams from each conference.

The competition’s country sides – Greater Western Victoria Rebels, Geelong Falcons, Murray Bushrangers, Gippsland Power and Bendigo Pioneers – are still scheduled to begin playing in August, however the remaining metropolitan teams have been placed back on hiatus and will not train or play until further announcements are made from the Victorian Government regarding coronavirus lockdowns in Melbourne.

Dandenong Stingrays are part of the Country conference in the NAB League but at this stage will remain barred from competition until metropolitan lockdown laws change.

Portland has three representatives within Greater Western Victoria’s under-18 boys team – Toby Jennings, Jameson Ballantyne and Tex Mitchell.

The Rebels are expected to host Geelong Falcons in Ballarat in round one.

AFL Head of Talent and State League Competitions Tristan Salter said while coronavirus restrictions had disrupted representative level play, the governing body remains committed to providing emerging players with the chance to perform in front of recruiters.

“Throughout this season we have anchored every decision in line with the advice of the respective government and relevant medical authorities,” Salter said.

“The evolving situation across Victoria has meant we have had to make decisions based on geographical locations of players and clubs to ensure we give as many players the opportunity to play NAB League games this year.

“While we would prefer to provide a standard season of NAB League football for girls and boys across the entire state, this outcome ensures an opportunity for many players to continue their journey in the talent pathway.”

The NAB League under-18 girls season is still expected to resume on September 5.

Portland has two representatives within the under-18 girls team – Elli Aitken and Lashay Blurton.

Three rounds were completed before the season was placed on hiatus in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A further two rounds will be completed in September.

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