By Terry Wilson
CONSISTENTLY good form in his rookie season has earned Surfers Paradise teenager Jasper “Jazz” Graham this week’s QAFL Rising Star nomination for Round 9.
Only 17, Graham made his seniors debut with the Demons in the opening round and has missed only the one game, that because of injury management with shin splints.
On Saturday Graham was impressive when Surfers beat Wilston Grange in a torrid struggle at Sir Bruce Small Park.
Graham has played most of his football with Surfers as a small forward but when injuries forced the hands of club coaches he was thrust into the midfield.
The result was 17 disposals, seven tackles and two goals. The reward was the Rising Star nomination, which did surprise Graham slightly.
“I thought I had a good game against Palm Beach Currumbin before that and I thought I went all right on the weekend,” Graham said.
“But getting the nomination did surprise me a bit.”
A Southport junior since his under-eight days, Graham linked with Surfers last year and played colts and reserves before stepping up a grade to start this season.
Playing in the NEAFL back with Southport or even higher than that on the list of an AFL club are on the radar of Graham.
“If I get the opportunity to train back at Southport I’ll definitely give it a crack,” he said.
“And it’d be great to get to the AFL but I’d need to put on some weight.”
Graham is 177cm tall and weighs 65kg.
“So I’m not the Incredible Hulk, am I,” he said.
But if that does not eventuate the lean youngster would love to one-day captain the Demons.
Why? Because he has been a leader most of his young footy life.
“I’ve always been a leader,” he said in all modesty.
“I captained several teams at Southport and last year I was Helensvale State High captain.
“Surfers is such a great club, all the boys get around you.”
Graham has some good Gold Coast football connections in the family tree.
His cousin is Jason Burge, two times a Southport Sharks best and fairest winner who won the 2017 QAFL Grogan Medal with Palm Beach Currumbin where he is reigning club champion.
And an uncle is Jeff Quigley, who played with Southport in the old GCAFL days and who finished at Surfers Paradise.
Graham made his Surfers debut in round one against Labrador, where he has a few mates playing top grade, when the Dees won.
Coming up for Surfers in a few weeks is the return bout with the Tigers and hopefully a timely birthday present because Graham turns 18 on the Wednesday before the Coast derby at Cooke-Murphy Oval.