2023 Queensland Football Hall of Fame – Daniel Merrett

Daniel Merrett is a triumph for AFL Queensland’s Talent Identification Program. He grew up playing rugby league, cricket, volleyball, and touch football and finished a 200-game AFL player with the Brisbane Lions.

It all changed one Saturday afternoon in mid-2001 when the 195cm redhead, whose family was originally from Adelaide, was watching some mates play for Surfers Paradise Under-18’s at Broadbeach. They were short so he filled in and remembered it well.

 “I first went on at centre-half-forward or centre-half-back – I’m not sure which because I didn’t know which was which at the time – and then they threw me into the ruck. I loved it and I got a $5 award. After that, they gave me $2 a week to play, and I was getting $10 in awards. It was like ‘how good is this?” he recounted.

He quickly found himself in the Surfers Paradise seniors and with a little help from AFLQ Development Manager Mark Browning, was given a run in the Brisbane Lions Reserves in their last game of the qualifying rounds. It was his ninth game of football. He joined the AFLQ Talent Search Program in 2002 and in less than 12 months, was drafted by the Lions at #30 in the 2002 National Draft.

Among those drafted behind him were 222-game Sydney premiership player and five-time grand final player Sean Dempster (#34), Essendon captain and 220-gamer Jobe Watson (#40), Carlton captain and 342-gamer Kade Simpson (#45), Sydney premiership player and 210-gamer Nick Malceski (#64), and two standout rookies – Hawthorn 200-game dual premiership player Brad Sewell, and Collingwood 208-game premiership captain Nick Maxwell.

It was Round 2 2005 before he made his AFL debut, but after three Brownlow Medal votes in his 11th game against Collingwood he was a fixture for 12 years thereafter.

Blessed with a generous mix of speed and power, he was among the premier key defenders in the competition through his prime. He was an occasional ‘weapon’ up forward like in the Lions’ very first game against GWS at the Gabba in 2012 when he kicked seven goals – five in the first quarter.

Elevated to the Lions leadership group in 2009, he finished top 10 in the best and fairest three times and was the 11thQueenslander to reach 200 games in his last game in Round 23 2016, following Jason Dunstall (1994), Scott McIvor (1997), Gavin Crosisca (1997), Marcus Ashcroft (1999), Michael Voss (2003), Jason Akermanis (2004), Mal Michael (2006), Max Hudghton (2007), Nick Riewoldt (2011) and David Hale (2014), and preceding Jarrod Harbrow (2017), Sam Gilbert (2018) and Dayne Zorko (2021).

In retirement, he worked in the Lions sales and marketing department for three years and was a four-year assistant coach of the Brisbane Lions AFLW team from their inception in 2017, deputising as senior coach once in 2020 when Craig Starcevich was hospitalised.

Our Supporters