By Beth Newman
For every player selected at last week’s draft, numerous hopefuls were left without an AFL home.
For those who missed out, the focus switches to this Wednesday’s rookie and pre-season drafts.
Brisbane Lions’ Jordon Bourke was one such player this time last year, and was one of a number Queenslanders to have his dream realised through the rookie draft.
After a strong under-16s campaign in 2011, a quieter year at the 2012 Under-18 championships saw Bourke overlooked at the national draft, before the Lions selected him a week later, making him the first Lions Academy member to graduate onto the club’s list.
Bourke was invited to train with the Lions after the draft, and decided to “leave no stone unturned” in his bid for an AFL spot.
While he is yet to play a senior game since his selection, the son of former Geelong and Brisbane ruckman Damian, has been doing everything he can to crack the main list.
“You just have to do everything to a tee, cross your t’s and dot your i’s,” he said.
“I have to do that extra thing that the senior boys aren’t doing to either catch up or take a place in the senior team. It’s just about doing those extra things you have to do as a rookie.”
Coming back for his second pre-season, Bourke said he was more prepared for the physical toll ahead of season 2014, after following an individual off-season program created by the Lions coaching staff.
“With the knowledge you get in your first year, you can prepare your body for what’s coming,” he said.
“So, instead of blowing yourself up early, you sort of know what to expect and understand it.
“We get the off-season program. Everyone’s different but it’s three gym sessions and three running sessions and that sets you up pretty well.”
At 193cm and 85kg, Bourke said he was still looking to add some muscle to his frame in his second season, with the ultimate goal of notching up a senior AFL game.
Rookie listings and the Academy programs are becoming increasingly important alternative pathways for Queenslanders looking to make the AFL, and Bourke said the state’s youngsters should be feeling optimistic.
“The NEAFL with the new system is a really good pathway,” he said.
“There’s been blokes like Tommy Bell and Adam Oxley who haven’t got picked up at first but then they’ve obviously gone on and continued through that NEAFL system (and been picked up)
“Even a great example’s Jono Freeman who’s been picked up this year through the Lions Academy.
I think with those pathways it’s getting a lot closer to the young players coming through to getting on a list.
The AFL Rookie and pre-season drafts take place on Wednesday November 27.