2016 Southport captain Ben Headland will be lining up in the QAFL this year, signing with Palm Beach Currumbin.
Headland makes to the move after 132 games with the Sharks, which included a premiership in 2008 and a NEAFL representative team selection in 2015.
After months of weighing up the pros and cons of what would be the biggest move in his career, he said the time was right.
“After having a few injuries problems over the last year and a half, and with the commitment levels required in the NEAFL, I thought now was the right time to make a move,” Headland said.
“It’s probably been a two or three month process in thinking about it. It was always going to be a difficult decision to leave the club, especially having a role like that (captaincy), but I’m pretty comfortable with where Southport is at as I leave.
“It wasn’t an easy decision, but I think it was the right one.”
Once that decision was made, then came the choice of location.
“There is a few ex-Southport players at Palm Beach, and in talking to them over the last couple of years they have said how much they enjoy it there. They made a Grand Final, so they are heading in the right direction and I’ve had a good relationship with Chad (Owens) for a few years so all those factors made it an easy decision,” he said.
For a player who has been surrounded by Southport’s four walls since his junior days, you could forgive him for being daunted about a move, but it’s quite the opposite.
“It’s a new challenge. I’m excited to get to know everyone involved in the club, and I’m excited about having the opportunity to try and get to another Grand Final and even win it. The opportunity to enjoy my footy by playing in the QAFL is what excites me,” he said.
Headland, 28 tomorrow, still has plenty of good footy ahead of him, so this isn’t a short-term decision.
“As long as everything goes to plan and I have a bit of luck I would love to play here for a few years. I wouldn’t leave Southport after so long to go to a club just for a year before moving somewhere else. I wanted to make sure I was making the right decision long term, so I hope to be here for a few years, enjoying a bit of success,” he said.
And as for the body?
“It’s getting there. In the next month I’ll hopefully be resuming full training, so by the start of the season I’ll be ready to go. I’m pretty comfortable with where it is all at,” he said.
Palm Beach Coach Coach Owens is ecstatic Headland is now a Lion.
“We were stoked to get Benny because he generated a lot of interest from other clubs. It shows that what we are doing at our club is a place of interest for people,” Owens said.
“After the Grand Final, we identified we needed some more leadership and mature bodies, and Ben brings both of those to the table. We are delighted he will be able to work with out younger guys.
“I worked with him when he was 16, so I’ve been lucky enough to watch his career unfold, and he is always someone I’ve kept my eye on.”
Headland will be well supported in that leadership area this year, with former Southport skipper Jason Burge as well as previous Palm Beach captain Angus Munro added to the line up for 2017.
Headland will be looking to pull on the Lions’ jumper for the first time in their round 1 clash against Morningside on April 22.
By Andrew Wiles
Photo: TJ Yields/NEAFL