By Beth Newman
Three of Queensland’s top 2014 draft prospects had a preview of what their future might hold this week.
Liam Dawson, Matt Hammelmann spent the week training with the Brisbane Lions, while Lachie Weller went to the Gold Coast SUNS as part of the AIS-AFL Academy program.
As well as training sessions, the youngsters joined their respective clubs for team meetings and gym sessions through the week.
Dawson, a standout player for Queensland in the 2013 national U18 championships, said the training was a level above anything he’d done before.
“I didn’t realise how intense or how hard it would be on our bodies and minds,” Dawson said.
“The running, the conditioning side of it (was a surprise). The amount they do in a training session is massive.
“It has given us an idea of what we’re coming into.”
The Redcliffe junior said he relished the chance to mix it with AFL players and take advice from some of the game’s elite.
“Getting to know the big name players (such as) Jonathan Brown, Brent Staker, Simon Black and those boys and being around the club is a highlight for us,” he said.
“I’ve loved every bit of the week.”
Dawson’s state teammate, Hammelmann, honed his contested marking skills in the week, soaking up advice from Lions development coach, Mitch Hahn and testing himself against some of the club’s big forwards.
At 198cm, Hammelmann looms as a key forward prospect for AFL clubs, and said he had learned to harness his size better in his time at the Lions.
“I’ve learnt a lot about how to position my body,” he said.
“It will help a lot, having that experience now to take back to club and the academy and it’ll help me with that.”
“We’ve got a big year ahead so I think it will help us step up in the state games, which will be at that higher intensity, and will help us play well.”
Being able to sit in on team meetings was another interesting aspect for the Morningside junior.
“We got to sit in on all their structures and listen to what they talk about and what they think are important things,” he said.
“Things like getting through a zone or setting up in different situations.
Dawson and Hammelmann, who are members of the Lions Academy, will also take part in some of the club’s main pre-season training sessions as part of that program.
While Weller was linked to the SUNS for the AIS-AFL program, the highly-rated teen was given special permission to train with the side throughout the pre-season.
Touted as a potential top-10 pick, Weller has impressed in his time at the SUNS, holding his own in the 2km time trial earlier in the summer.
Gold Coast will be hoping they can keep Weller in their stables, but will face some tough competition with the Tasmanian junior ineligible for zone selection, having not lived in Queensland long enough.
Gold Coast SUNS Academy manager, Jason Torney, said Weller would be a massive test for the AFL hopeful, but would hold him in good stead for the U18 championships this year.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn but also test himself against quality AFL talent,” Torney told goldcoastfc.com.au
“Lachie’s program runs through until the end of January where he will hope the extra work has paid off and helps his SUNS Academy campaign which rolls over into the Queensland Scorpions U18 program.”