Brisbane 20-year-old Joey Daye has won a senior list spot with the Gold Coast Suns for their entry to the AFL next year.

Thursday, 28 October, 2010

It’s taken three long, hard years, but Brisbane 20-year-old Joey Daye has finally exorcised the demons of the worst moment of his young AFL career.

The rangy 20-year-old wingman has won a spot on the senior playing list with the Gold Coast Suns for their entry to the national competition.

This strong vote of confidence from the AFL’s 17th franchise has seen Daye finally put behind him the shattering disappointment of being overlooked as a fancied candidate in the 2007 AFL National Draft.

Daye had been a member of the 2006 AFL/AIS Academy squad alongside fellow Queenslanders Brendan Whitecross and Sam Reid, and was widely tipped alongside Whitecross, now at Hawthorn, and Reid, now at the Western Bulldogs, to be snapped up by an AFL club.

It was a star-studded Academy group, including subsequent AFL players Daniel Rich and Aaron Cornelius (Brisbane), Lachlan Henderson (Brisbane/Carlton), Chris Yarran (Carlton), Trent Cotchin and Tyrone Vickery (Richmond), Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide), Jack Grimes, Cale Morton and Adam Maric (Melbourne), Nic Naitanui, Brad Ebert and Tom Swift (West Coast), Hamish Hartlett (Port Adelaide) and Pat Veszpremi (Sydney/Carlton), And Daye had more than held his own in this illustrious company.

But on draft day he missed out. There wasn’t even the consolation of a rookie list spot.

“I was shattered at the time,” Daye said today. “Before the draft a lot of people were saying ‘you’ll be right’ and when I didn’t get picked up I didn’t know what to think.

“I was so disappointed … I was lost. It took me a few weeks for the reality to hit and then to get back into training and start all over again.

“I guess to finally get into the AFL system after is pretty satisfying, even though I know I’ve still got a long way to go, and I really appreciate the opportunity and the faith the Gold Coast have given me.

“Now that I’m on the list I’ve definitely set my goal to play the first game next year,” Daye said.

The oldest of three boys, Daye was born in Moe, Victoria, to a Burmese father (John) and an Australian mother (Diane). He spent his early years in Melbourne before moving to Brisbane aged four in 1994, attending Kallangur State School and the AFL School of Excellence at Sandgate High.

A Strathpine junior, he had a short stint at Kedron before joining the Zillmere Eagles in 2007 to represent Queensland at U18 level and play in the Eagles’ QAFL Reserves premiership side.

His 2008 campaign to reignite his AFL dream was cut short by osteitis pubis, which restricted him to two senior games at Zillmere and four games with the Queensland U18 side.

His ’08 season was over in June and it was a huge relief when in October ‘08 he was offered the opportunity to train with the Gold Coast as they started putting together a playing list ahead of their 2011 entry to the AFL.

He played 19 of a possible 23 games for the Gold Coast in their joint TAC Cup / Queensland U18 campaign of 2009, and after end-of-season surgery to finally rectify hip/groin problems a further chance followed with the Gold Coast’s VFL side in 2010.

He was among the Gold Coast’s most consistent players this year, earning lavish praise from the Gold Coast coaching staff for the way he went about all aspects of his football, and was finally rewarded with an AFL contract.

“Bluey (Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna) has been fantastic. He’s helped me so much and given me a lot of confidence,” said Daye.

“I’ve felt comfortable with the whole place and I’ve really started to enjoy my footy. Having missed out three years ago I realized how much football meant to me and I’ve been focused on not letting it slip again.“

Daye, as light at 76kg after his surgery 12 months ago, now tips the scales at 85kg and is one of the elite athletes among the star-studded Gold Coast playing group.

He will resume training with the full Suns group next Monday.

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