Queensland’s record-breaking year in the AFL will escalate still further on Saturday afternoon, with Joel Tippett and Tom Hickey making their AFL debut for the Gold Coast Suns.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Queensland’s record-breaking year in the AFL will escalate still further on Saturday afternoon, with Tom Hickey and Joel Tippett making their AFL debut for the Gold Coast Suns.

They will be the 15th and 16th Queenslanders to play at AFL level for the first time this year, and will take to a record 45 the total number of Queenslanders to show their worth on the 2011 national stage.

This leaves only eight of the 53 Queenslanders on the playing lists of AFL clubs, including rookies, not to get a run.

This group comprises Gold Coast youngsters Jack Stanlake, Lewis Moss, Jack Stanley (rookie) and Jake Crawford (rookie), injured and now retired Brisbane ruckman Jamie Charman, injured Melbourne ruckman Jake Spencer, Western Bulldogs’ mature-age rookie Mitch Hahn, and Collingwood teenager Josh Thomas.

And Thomas, who has nursed a foot stress fracture through much of the year, was a senior emergency last week after four games in the VFL.

Hickey (pictured top) and Tippett (below) will debut against the Adelaide Crows at Metricon Stadium.

Tippett will be opposed to older brother Kurt, who will return from a three-week lay-off with hamstring problems.

Suns selectors even named the younger Tippett at fullback to play on the older Tippett but fans will need to wait until the 2.10pm first bounce to see whether that intriguing match-up occurs.

The Tippetts will be the seventh set of Queensland brothers to play AFL football, following Che, David and Donald Cockatoo-Collins, Michael and Brett Voss, Clark and Aaron Keating, Dayne and Claye Beams, David and Stephen Wearne, and Rhys and Alik Magin.

They will be the fourth set of brothers to actually play against each other behind Che and Donald Cockatoo-Collins, the Vosses and the Keatings.

Adding further to the assault on the AFL history book, Tippett and will take to 32 the number of players to debut for the Gold Coast this year.

That is the most by any club in 100 years of AFL/VFL football – with still two rounds to go.

This figure does not include those players who were recruited by the Gold Coast from other AFL clubs with previous AFL experience, like Gary Ablett, Nathan Bock and Campbell Brown etc.

Gold Coast’s 32 debutants tops the 30 debutants of the Adelaide Crows in their first year in the AFL in 1991, and leaves them behind only St.Kilda’s 35 debutants in 1909, St.Kilda’s 33 debutants in 1898 and 1911, and St.Kilda’s 31 debutants in 1920.

The shared Tippett/Hickey debut will be an occasion of contrasting emotions.

Tippett, a 197cm 22-year-old tall defender from Southport, has waited five years since he was rookie-listed by the Brisbane Lions at the end of the 2006 season for the chance to finally play.

He spent 2007-08-09 as a Lions rookie, and was set to play after being elevated to the senior list late in ’09 before things went against him.

He sat out the 2010 season due to a recurring back injury, but after being thrown a career lifeline by the Suns has been a stellar contributor with their Reserves in the NEAFL.

He also played well for Queensland in their magnificent effort against Western Australia in Perth in June.

Hickey, a 20-year-old 201cm ruckman from Morningside, hasn’t had anything like the same wait.

It wasn’t until a magnificent final quarter in the Panthers’ 2010 QAFL State League grand final win over Labrador last September that he really clinched his draft selection by the Suns.

But since joining the League’s 17th franchise he has made every post a winner, and has been among the Reserves’ best player in each of the last four weeks.

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