A number of Lions and Suns players have found themselves in the AFL via non-traditional pathways.
There will be 44 AFL players lining up in QClash5 on Saturday, but not all of them have found themselves in the AFL the traditional way.
One of the Lions’ 2012 stand outs, Dayne Zorko, heads a list of players who are making a name for themselves in AFL who travelled through different pathways.
It took four straight Broadbeach Best and Fairests for Zorko to make his AFL debut and the 24-year-old said he had learned a lot from his time in the NEAFL.
“I benefited a lot from that,” he said.
“A lot of kids these days get drafted at 18 and haven’t really played against mature bodies and are expected to come in and play against men straight away.
“So, I think I was probably at an advantage there where I’d already had a few years against older bodies and I think I’ve fitted in pretty well.”
Zorko said he hoped he could help inspire other Queenslanders to stay in their home state and chase their AFL dreams, rather than travel south to competitions such as the VFL or SANFL.
“I think the pathway I’ve gone through probably gives guys a lot of hope that they can definitely play AFL for a Queensland state and they don’t have to go to SA or WA to get a chance at it. “
From their Coast rivals, it is rugby league convert, Karmichael Hunt who stands out from the pack.
The former Brisbane Bronco will line up for his 37th AFL game on Saturday and said this clash, with the Suns a game up on the Lions, would be the one of the best yet.
“I think there’s a lot more interest this week because of how the teams are travelling,” he said.
“The first two years were sort of a novelty because we were an inexperienced team and we were trying to find our feet, but now we feel like we belong at AFL level.
“Of course, we want to try and knock these boys off. The rivalry’s only going to get stronger from here.
“Hopefully, we can add a good chapter this weekend.”
Hunt is not the only Sun who comes from a different sport, with former Townsville high jumper, Josh Hall, also on their list.
The Townsville youngster won a bronze medal in the 2007 World Youth Athletic Championships for high jump, before embarking on a football career.
Lions’ Irish midfielder, Pearce Hanley is another player who made it to the AFL outside of the conventional pathway.
Hanley is not the first Irishman to play at the Lions, but he has been their most successful, playing 58 games for Brisbane and finishing third in the 2012 Merrett-Murray Medal.
The 24 year-old said it took him a while to find his feet in the AFL, but after a putting together a string of consecutive games at the end of 2010, Hanley said he began to feel more at home.
“Towards the end of my third year, I think I played eight straight games and once you play at that level for more than two or three games you find that you’re capable of playing okay footy there,” he said.
Hanley has been among the Lions’ best in their opening games, and is set to play more of an attacking role for Brisbane this season.
“I think they (the coaches) want me using the footy a bit further up the ground.”
QClash 5 is on Saturday April 13 at 7:40pm at Metricon Stadium.