2022 QAFL Preview – Labrador

By Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend

Did anyone in their wildest dreams ever believe that at the start of the 2021 season that Labrador would win the Minor Premiership and get within a few kicks of a Grand Final? Even the most optimistic supporters would have been mildly confident that this Tiger team under new coach Nick Malceski would make finals and give themselves something to build on for 2022.

The 2021 season gave the club more than something to build on, alright. If not for a freakish 10-minutes late in the last quarter of a preliminary final where it conceded five-goals to turn a 20-point lead into a defeat; this team had the potential to win the premiership.

With its grit, strength and composure; Labrador played a brilliant brand of team-orientated football to lift itself to the top of the ladder and showcase an ability that could not only challenge the best teams, but beat them.

Labrador competed with reigning Grand Finalists Broadbeach in a first-up local derby and wins over Surfers Paradise and Maroochydore proved that it could, at the least challenge the mid-range teams in the top half of the ladder, and beat them.

Labrador saved its best football for mid-way through the season. Fending off a fast finishing Maroochydore to win by a point at home in Round 11 followed its most flawless performance of the season when it tore down Broadbeach at home in a gritty, tense arm-wrestle. Wins over the Gorillas and Roos before COVID hit, secured the Minor premiership.

A goal from Broadbeach captain Josh Searl mid-way through time-on in the semi-final at home saw Labrador miss out on a direct pass to the Grand Final. It returned home the following week and when Pearce Hanley slotted through his fourth goal at the 22.5-minute mark of the last quarter to extend the lead to 22-points and set for a place in the Grand Final; 10-minutes and 5.2 from the opposition later, ended the Tiger’s season. A loss that hurt on the day, and a loss that will still hurt.

The silver-lining to Labrador’s loss to Maroochydore is it took arguably the most remarkable 10-minutes of football from any team seen in recent memory to stop them from making a Grand Final. Labrador just happened to be on the losing end of that; but for 99-percent of that game, for 99-percent of the season, it was a worthy of winning its way to a Grand Final.


Reigning defending AFLQ Senior coach of the year and Sydney 2012 AFL premiership hero Nick Malceski will again coach Labrador in 2022. With more than 200 games of AFL experience, Malceski is also known for his work as Head Coach of the SUNS NEAFL team and Development Coach.

He will be well supported this year by assistant coaches Byron ‘Butch’ Donnellon (midfield), Travis Bell (backs) and Dean Trewarn (specialist).


Lachie Henderson – Geelong/Carlton/Brisbane (AFL – 206 games) and will play forward and back. He brings great leadership to the team and is fresh out of 14 seasons in the AFL.

Andrew Boston – from Southport (co-captain) in the VFL; a NEAFL premiership player and played three seasons with the Gold Coast in the AFL. He is quality midfielder with great leadership.

Connor Ambler – from Traralgon in the Gippsland League, is a back/midfielder with experience.

Jackson McMahon – from Traralgon in the Gippsland League, is a back/midfielder with experience.

Christian Buykx-Smith – from Bell Park in the Geelong Football Netball League. Can play both back and forward and has experience,



P.Hanley, A.McKay, A.Hollis, J.Kenny, C.Anderson, B.Rubock, K.McMahon, M.Johnson, J.Travaglini, L.Osborne, D.Fyfe and C.Ford.


”We have plenty of young talent throughout our Colts so looking forward to seeing who steps up.” Nick Malceski


Bryce Retzlaff – arguably the best contested mark in the competition inside the forward 50. Strong over-head, good use of the body and is incredibly difficult to out muscle.

Shaydan Close – handy player that can kick goals and turn a game in his team’s favour very quickly.


”We want to improve on last year in all facets of the game, and be competitive each week no matter who we are playing.” Malceski


Broadbeach – reigning premiers and have kept the side together, also added players to its list.

Aspley – dropping back from VFL, well coached and will be drilled in with solid structures and game plan. 

Redland-Victoria Point – solid year last year, well coached and have added A Grade players to its list.


“We believe all teams will have improved from last year so will have to be at our best week in, week out to compete.” Malceski


Lachie Henderson – last game was an AFL Prelim, he has a wealth of experience and his leadership has improved the guys around him. 

Andrew Boston – Ex-Captain of Southport for the last five-years. Like Henderson has great experience at a high level of footy and his leadership is having a big impact on our group. 

Tom Simpson – Had a great year last year winning our Best and Fairest, looking forward to him improving with the guys around him and taking his game to another level.
– Malceski


Matt Hammelman – Redland-Victoria Point
Jarrod Harbrow – Broadbeach
Liam Jones – Palm Beach Currumbin



Nick Malceski took this team from fringe-finalists to genuine premiership contenders in the space of three-months in 2021. The win over Broadbeach at home was not only season-defining, but also a key bench-mark for what this list can achieve. It was the type of win that made it a key performance with its ability to play the key match ups well and keep the game on its terms.

There has been a few key players move on in the off-season but the addition of a number of key personnel that will balance out the losses. This team is not built on individuals; its built on a solid game plan where each player has a key role to play. Its strength in the Reserves adds invaluable depth and will go a long way to keeping players on their toes needing to earn their spots.

This team heads into this season with the expectation to make finals and the capacity of finishing third or higher at the end of the home and away season. This journey for this group is only just the beginning.


Photo by Russell Freeman

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