THE Riverina will enjoy one of its biggest representations in the Allies squad for year after five players made the final cut for the under-18 national championships.
Nick Madden (Osborne), Luke Lawrence (MCUE), Harry Rowston (Griffith) and Turvey Park duo Luke Fellows and Angus Curry were all selected, and will travel to Adelaide for the opening game against South Australia this Sunday.
The initial squad of 46 was cut to 23 after a training camp and an Allies North v Allies South were staged in Sydney on the weekend.
Allies coach Cameron Bernasconi said the quintet had worked hard to earn the right to put themselves in the shop window of AFL scouts and recruiters at the national championships.
The Allies will play four games, with Victoria Metro (June 25), Victoria Country (July 3) and Western Australia (July 9) also on the schedule.
"It's the most (Riverina representation) I can remember, which is awesome for the region," Bernasconi said.
"It's been a combination of their league performance and when they went back to their school or local footy, just making sure they're in form at the levels they play at.
"But especially on the weekend, those boys performed pretty well for Allies South who had a good win, so that helped their cause."
Bernasconi, also the Giants Academy coach, said it shows the system is working to get country-based talent in the spotlight.
"We have to keep putting these kids on a platform to be exposed to recruiters," he said.
"To perform well in these high pressure games, it will be the best of the best playing each other with recruiters watching.
"The good players rise to that and some players struggle, but it's the whole idea of it. To play at the next level, you have to deal with the pressure of playing high pressure games."
Key forward-ruck Madden is one tipped to attract good interest in the AFL Draft.
"It's a great platform for him, he's probably been one of the best players in the NAB League and now he's playing against the best 18 and 19 year olds in the country," Bernasconi said.
"It's a big challenge for Nick, but I think he'll adapt and rise to the challenge for sure."
The Allies will head to South Australia full of confidence after a combined Swans and Giants Academy team beat them in a practice match Adelaide recently.
"It was a great initiative from the Giants and Swans Academies to combine and have a practice game against South Australia.
"It exposed a lot of boys in the Allies (to that level of football), but also guys who aren't in Allies who played really well too."
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