2024 QAFL Season Preview – Palm Beach Currumbin

By Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend

Palm Beach Currumbin was the most talked about club in the off-season for all of the right reasons when it produced a record three round one draft picks in the AFL National Draft in late 2023.

With Ethan Read, Jed Walter and Will Graham all finding themselves on the Gold Coast SUNS AFL list over the summer, it continued to instil a tremendous legacy that the Lions continue to establish as one of the best in the country for producing top level talent.

While the 2023 season for the Senior football team didn’t go according to plan, the fact that this group still made finals is enough of a foundation to build on to roar into the 2024 season.

With a change of coach late in the 2023 pre-season, this group formed a tight unit and continue to improve and impress against some of the best in the competition. While it didn’t dominate in the way it had the previous season, with the likes of Walter (Allies), Will Bella (Coburg) and Liam Jones (Western Bulldogs) as part of the squad, it still manage to produce some impressive results.

The upside for PBC fans in 2023 is that at its best, this group could beat anyone, and it did so by the only team outside of the top three to defeat eventual Grand Finalists Redland Victoria Point (+15 on the road) and beating eventual finalists Surfers Paradise on two occasions. These three impressive wins followed disappointing losses; Broadbeach (-46 and -51), Aspley (-63 and -42) and then to Labrador (-44) and Noosa (-46) who didn’t make finals.

The squad faced injuries to key personnel across the season which made it extremely difficult to build any momentum across the year.

The Lions hit flag contenders Broadbeach in the opening week of the finals, falling behind by 42-points at the opening break before going on to lose by 95-points. To be fair, the form of its opposition around that period was going to be tough for anyone, making the win from Wilston Grange in week two of the finals one of the best in the past decade.

The squad produced some impressive talent across the season and built a reputation on being tough and competitive.


The Lions watch on as its next batch of talent go on to become household names in the AFL while in the process, welcoming some quality AFL talent.

The team will be coached by former St Kilda player David Armitage who takes on the role in his first-season as coach. With more than 160 AFL games to his name, the former Queensland Under 18s star and Mackay product, previously played with Morningside in his development that led to him being secured with Pick 9 in the 2006 draft.

He captained the Saints in the absence of former Queenslander Nick Reiwoldt; demonstrating valuable leadership at the top level in his mid-20s.

The 35-year-old is a tremendous get for the club.


TOM HICKEY – in one of the biggest recruiting coups of the season; Hickey joins former St Kilda team mate fresh out of the AFL system. A star in the ruck; he forged a 151-game career at the top level with Gold Coast, St Kilda, West Coast and Sydney. Originally from Brisbane, he too joined Morningside in the lead-up to his draft aspirations and played for Gold Coast in its maiden season in 2011.

AARON HALL  – originally from Hobart, the defender played 161 games across Gold Coast and North Melbourne. Like Hickey, he retired from the top level at the end of 2023 and is ready to make an instant impact in the QAFL.


Tyler Cornish – retired

Cal McBurnie – retired

Carl Nicholson


SAM CLIMI – a fast and attacking small forward who plays midfield and showcases tremendous skills. He crossed from Point Cook in Victoria in the off-season. He played 18 games and kicked 10 goals for the Senior team last year. At the age of 20, his career is just starting to launch.


ETHAN SEKAC – the small high-flyer and goal kicking machine is set for another break-out season.


AJ DAWSON – a major ball winner who represented Queensland against Tasmania in 2023. He is one of the captains in the team.


“Like everyone we hope to go deep into the finals, hopefully we can get a decent run with injuries this year,” – David Armitage


With nine games against teams that finished in the top six in 2023, there will be some big challenges across the season, but one which coach David Armitage will be ready for.

The opening month is massive with the season opener against Wilston Grange at home, a contest that will be big in the context of the season as both teams made finals last season and will be jostling for positions around that 3-6 mark across the 2024 season. The winner here will get an enormous boost.

Games against Mt Gravatt and Noosa will be big tests; both clubs having new coaches on board and eager to jump into the finals’ mix, while Broadbeach will also have a new coach and awaits the Lions in a tense local derby in Round 4.

Ideally, the Lions at a minimum, sit 2-2 after a month before taking on the Roos, Sharks and Dees in a hat-trick of weeks. Wins against any of those teams will be massive and set the season up.

The Roos, Pies, Southern Tigers and Aspley await the Lions in the final month. Don’t be surprised if the clash against the Southern Tigers, Labrador, in Round 18 determines sixth place. The Lions face Aspley while Labrador face Redland Victoria Point in the final round of the season.


Losing Tyler Cornish in the off-season hurts. In fact, his absence last season was tough after an injury-plagued run. He was that spark in the midfield and could turn a game.

With Carl Nicholson moving on in the off-season, essentially replacing Will Bella, the addition of Tom Hickey will be outstanding and the silky skills of Aaron Hall across half back will be wonderful.

Christian Buykx-Smith will have a full pre-season under the belt at the Den and he is a major game-changer up forward with the capacity to kick some big goals and take strong contested marks.

The emergence of Dylan Patterson will continue to blow the competition away. If the 2023 Queensland Under 16 representative is playing a lot of football in this space; feeding off Tom Hickey and kicking goals, the SUNS may have another to watch on over the coming drafts.

This group should be optimistic of playing finals. It just needs to find the goals more frequently and be more attacking just to out-gun the likes of Maroochydore, Aspley, Redland Victoria Point and Wilston Grange who will be just a handful of teams that will again dominate with big scores.

There was a lot that worked in 2023 and with Armitage in the driver’s seat; weekends will be great for those at the Den with Walter, Reid and Graham playing well in the AFL space and the Senior team enjoying another massive season.

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