Dawson ready to towel up on debut

By Greg Davis

BRISBANE debutant Liam Dawson was not exactly dressed for success when he found out his football dream had come true.

The homegrown 19-year-old will play his first AFL game on Sunday when the Lions tackle Essendon at Etihad Stadium.

He was dragged out of an ice bath and into the coaches room at the Gabba on Thursday afternoon where, draped in nothing but a towel, he was told he had made the big time.

“I didn’t have time to grab my shirt and just had my towel around me, and all 20 of them (coaching staff) were sitting in there,’’ Dawson said.

“They gave me a bit of stick but it was pretty funny. They told me I was going to make my debut and congratulated me. I’ll never forget it.

“I still can’t believe it. I’m stoked. Twelve years of footy and it has now all paid off for this one day.’’

Dawson, a graduate of the Lions Academy, brings a blue-chip resume to the side.

He was an All-Australian at under-18 level in 2013, and a member of the elite nationwide AFL-AIS Academy.

The Redcliffe junior was also part of the Aspley side that won last year’s NEAFL grand final, kicking a crucial goal for the Hornets in their stirring fourth-quarter comeback.

He played on retiring Swans great Ryan O’Keefe in the NEAFL decider and held his own, even attempting some good-natured sledging of the Norm Smith medallist and dual premiership player.

Dawson was a standout at last year’s AFL draft combine in both the clean hands and goalkicking tests, and was duly taken by Brisbane at pick 44 in last year’s draft with an academy selection.

An eye-catching outing across half-forward against Sydney in this year’s NAB Challenge game in Coffs Harbour suggested it was only a matter of time before Dawson earned his senior stripes.

After being an emergency for the seniors for a number of weeks, four goals in the NEAFL last week sealed his call-up.

At 188cm and 84kg, he can play as a big-bodied midfielder or mid-sized defender.

Having played as a forward during his junior days, he is likely to go forward against the Bombers.

He said seeing fellow Lions Academy graduates Jono Freeman and Harris Andrews make an impact at AFL level had motivated him.

“It’s inspired me to get the best out of myself and try to get to that next level,’’ Dawson said.

“It’s been great to have those blokes at the club. You see them make their debuts and you want to follow in their footsteps.’’

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