For four Queenslanders, last night their dreams came true.
Ben Keays, Eric Hipwood, Corey Wagner and Wylie Buzza all had their names read out by AFL clubs at the Adelaide Convention Centre on draft night, obtaining a spot on an AFL senior list.
Eric Hipwood – a Caloundra junior – was the first Queenslander to go at pick 14 to the Brisbane Lions. Richmond originally bid on Hipwood with the pick, but under the new academy bidding rules, Brisbane was able to match the offer.
Ben Keays – the Morningside and Redland player – also found a home at the Brisbane Lions, after they matched the Western Bulldogs bid at pick 24.
Corey Wagner – who shared his time between Aspley and Sandgate growing up – is headed down south after being selected by North Melbourne with pick 43, which was not matched by the Brisbane Lions.
With pick 69, the Geelong Cats selected Wylie Buzza, the Darling Downs product who also played for Mt Gravatt and Redland, who has cult hero written all over him already.
Queensland Academy and High Performance Coach, Adrian Fletcher, said having four players from the Academy system drafted is a fantastic result.
“It’s a great outcome to have four players picked out of one team. There were only 60 odd live picks, so in terms of Queensland kids and the overall percentage, that’s a fantastic result,” he said.
“They have all worked hard to get there, and really deserve this shot.”
Fletcher said that the four players spread out over three clubs was a great opportunity for them all.
“I think Eric and Ben getting picked by the Lions is a great outcome for everybody. They went where they should go in the draft pick wise, and the Lions deserve the opportunity,” he said.
“For Corey and Wylie, they have the opportunity to play in the heartland. It’s a great place to play footy, and an exciting place to live. They get to go to high profile clubs and play footy, so they are in a great position.”
One thing is for certain in his mind though, they will all slot in well to the AFL system.
“I have no doubt they will do great. The first year you have got to grind away and find your identity, and from that you build your career. They will work hard, and get to where they want to go,” Fletcher said.
With the NAB AFL Draft now finished, attention will turn to the Rookie Draft this Friday, where Queensland has a few more hopefuls who are a big chance of obtaining a rookie spot on an AFL list.
By Andrew Wiles