Thursday 16 September 2010

Morningside have been the kings of producing home-grown talent for much of the last decade and they will take up to 11 former Panthers juniors into the QAFL grand final on Sunday.

While operating on a smaller budget than most of their rivals, the Panthers have been regular finalists on the back of a strong club culture and their ability to bring through quality local talent.

Mark Rootsey, Nathan Kinch, Kent Delbridge, Paul Shelton, Jacob Gough, Alastair Nash, David Lillico, Tom Hickey, Jake Thomlinson, Tom Bell and Jarrod Price have all emerged – over substantially different periods of time – from the Esplen Oval nursery.

The Panthers currently have six former Morningside products playing in the AFL.

Teenage ruckman Hickey and defender Bell must surely be on the radar of a number of elite clubs following some standout performances over the second half of the season.

In contrast, grand final opponents Labrador are in the early stages of trying to build a similar junior development system to the Panthers.

While some clever recruiting has helped the Tigers reach their first grand final, coach Jarrod Field nonetheless joined the club with a youth policy at the start of 2009.

The Tigers now have under 16 and under 18 sides and are quickly building a far different reputation on the Gold Coast to past years.

Labrador do have three home grown talents – Mat Clarke, Nathan Gurciullo and Scott Trembath – in their grand final squad, and former Tigers junior Michael Osborne has been a good player at Hawthorn for a number of years now.    

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