WIMMERA young gun Darcy Tucker will line up for Vic Country in round one of the NAB AFL U-18 Championships on Sunday.
The Horsham Saints and North Ballarat Rebels star will play against Vic Metro at 11am at Trevor Barker Oval in Sandringham.
Tucker, 17, was one of three Rebels players selected in the team alongside Portland’s Rowan Marshall and Lake Wendouree’s Daniel Butler.
The bottom-aged utility said he did not expect to be picked, but was ready to make the most of the opportunity.
“As a bottom-ager I definitely didn’t expect to do this,” he said.
“If I looked at it last year I would’ve thought no way, but I’ve worked hard to get here, so I’m rapt and excited for the weekend.
“I’m just hoping to soak up the experience and try not to be nervous, do whatever I can, learn as much as I can and have a consistent game.”
Tucker has enjoyed a stellar start to his first full season with the Rebels – being named in the side’s best players on four of six occasions – after making his TAC Cup debut as an under-age player last season.
Confidence and consistency will be critical for the Wimmera teen, who played a starring role in Vic Country’s under-16 national championships triumph last year.
“I was an under-age player so I suppose I wasn’t as confident,” he said.
“I’ve put in a big pre-season and this year I feel a lot more confident with my game, so that helps a lot with how I play.
“I’ve had the start I wanted, so I’ve just got to be consistent throughout the year and keep going.”
Tucker said he expected to line up on a half-back flank.
“The coach rang me the other night and let me know that I was in, so I was very excited,” he said.
“He said I’m likely to start on a half-back flank – over the past few weeks I’ve played in the back line and on a half-back flank because that’s where they’re looking to play me in Vic Country.
"It’s something different, but it’s been good.”
The AIS-AFL Academy level one scholarship holder said the cut-throat nature of the under-18 national championships required him to be at the top of his game.
“As a bottom-age player I’m not expecting every game,” he said.
“I would have been happy to play three or four games and get that experience for next year, but my target will be to play as many games as I can.
“I’ll have to perform to stay in the side. With the under-18s you can go in and out, it’s a bit more cut-throat and a bit different to the under-16s.”
Vic Country will play six games in total – with fixtures against South Australia on June 1 and June 27, Western Australia on June 15 and July 2, and a second match against Vic Metro on June 8.
Fifty-one players have been named in the Vic Country squad, with Wimmera players Oscar McDonald, Josh Webster and James Richards also named.
Key defender Richards is on the comeback trail from injury, while McDonald and Rebels co-captain Webster are set to line up in a second match against Vic Metro at 2pm.
The match will give players the chance to cement their spot in the Vic Country squad for future matches, but has no bearing on the championships standings.