AFL Round 11 Selection Wrap


By Peter Blucher.

Jesse’s slice of history

Jesse Joyce will carve his own slice of football history with his AFL debut for the Gold Coast Suns on Saturday night.

The 18-year-old midfielder/defender will be the first product of the Suns Academy to graduate to the club’s senior side.

He was a foundation member of the Academy in 2011, and used to train on the oval beside Metricon Stadium when it was being built and dream of playing alongside the likes of Gary Ablett and David Swallow.

Just prior to 7.25pm on Saturday that same 191cm redhead will run out beside the incomparable Ablett for the Suns’ Round 11 home clash with the Sydney Swans.

“Coming through the Academy, it’s pretty humbling to make the journey through that and get to this point,” Joyce told Suns TV on Thursday evening after news of his selection had broken.

“I started from the start of it and learned a lot of my foundation footy from that and I owe a lot to (Academy coaches) Jason Torney and Aaron Rogers for that. I’m looking forward to playing for them and doing the Academy proud.”

Through his time in the Academy Joyce revelled in sharing the stadium corridors with the Suns’ big names and occasionally rubbing shoulders with them.

“You’d walk around and you’d see guys like Swallow and Ablett and they’d come up and shake your hand,” said Joyce, who was born in Melbourne but moved to Tweed Heads with his parents as a two-year-old.

“To live at home and play footy, it’s a bit of a dream. I’m just looking forward to seeing where I can go with this. This is just the start and I can’t wait to see where it ends up.”

Joyce, who played junior football with the Coolangatta-Tweed juniors before switching to Palm Beach-Currumbin to play senior football as a 16-year-old, was delivered the news of his selection after the injury-ravaged Suns made six changes for a staggering fourth week in a row.

He will be the 85th Suns player and the club’s 19th Queenslander behind Jarrod Harbrow, Marc Lock, Zac Smith, Alik Magin, Karmichael Hunt and Charlie Dixon, who were members of the club’s first side, plus Joey Daye, Rex Liddy, Joel Wilkinson, Rory Thompson, Tom Hickey, Joel Tippett, Alex Sexton, Josh Hall, Jackson Allen, Andrew Boston, Clay Cameron and Andrew Raines.

He’ll also be the 160th Queenslander to play at AFL level and the fifth debutant this year behind Melbourne’s Josh Wagner, Collingwood’s Josh Smith, Sydney’s Aliir Aliir and Brisbane’s Ben Keays.

It was smiles all round at Suns headquarters yesterday when Joyce’s selection was officially confirmed, wiping memories of something of an embarrassing false start a week earlier.

The mishap occurred when a local media outlet splashed news of Joyce’s supposed debut against West Coast in Perth last Sunday.

In fact, Joyce had only been chosen in the 25-man Suns squad for the visit west, and missed the final cut.

Instead he played in a savagely depleted NEAFL side against the Lions Reserves, and for the third game in a row was named among his side’s best.

This week, despite the return from injury of Sexton, Matt Rosa, Kade Kolodjashnij, Touk Miller and Callum AhChee he forced his way into the top side.

He will be the 30th different Queenslander to play in the AFL this year and will join fellow Queenslanders Harbrow and Sexton in taking on the premiership fancies.

Sadly for the locals, Joyce’s inclusion came as fellow Queenslander Cameron was omitted.

In other Queensland selection news for Round 11, Sexton was rushed straight back into the Suns side after missing just three matches with a broken arm.

GWS Giants’ Sam Reid was named an emergency for the fourth time, while Essendon’s Sam Michael was named an emergency for the third time and Brisbane’s Claye Beams likewise for a second time in a row after injury.

Suns defender Rory Thompson is tipped to resume in the NEAFL after seven weeks on the injured list.



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