AFL Queensland has unveiled a new-look program that will streamline the preparation of the Australia Post U18 Scorpions next year.

Friday, 17 September, 2010

AFL Queensland has unveiled a new-look program that will streamline the preparation of the Australia Post U18 Scorpions side for next year’s NAB Australian U18 Championships.

Gone are the regional-based teams known for so long as the Northern Raiders, South-East Bushrangers, Western Taipans, Gold Coast Stingrays, Suncoast Power and Country Kookaburras.

These regional sides will now finish at U16 level following the abandonment of the State U18 Championships.

In their place at U18 level will be program built around the AFL’s new-look Academy program under which all players will either be aligned to Brisbane/Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast/Country.

The Brisbane/Sunshine Coast division will stretch to Bundaberg, with players from Rockhampton north falling into the Gold Coast/Country section.

This is a forerunner to a system where, in time, the Brisbane Lions and the Gold Coast Suns will have first call on players from their respective zones.

Bob Batty, AFL Queensland Talent Manager, said the Academies, run under the auspices of the Lions and the Suns, and AFLQ State League clubs, would take far greater responsibility for the development pathway for players once they graduate from U16 ranks.

“The regional-based program has done an outstanding job for a long time but now we’ve got to move on,” Batty said.

“The focus now will be more on the individuals than the teams like the Bushies and the Stingrays and the program will fall more into the elite level similar to those which operate right across Australia.

“We’re looking to create a more competitive, top-end environment where the best young talent will get a chance to show their capabilities and maximize their development.”

Under the program, players eligible for the 2011 Scorpions will be invited to attend screening sessions in Brisbane, Townsville, Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast in October. The Townsville session will take in all players from north of Rockhampton.

Invitees will be nominated by AFLQ development staff and clubs and will be subjected to testing protocols as used in the NAB AFL National Combine.

In early November a preliminary squad of up to 80 players will be announced for a three-phase summer program.

In phase 1 from early November until the end of January players will undergo three sessions a week based on individual development.

There will be two sessions based around fitness and weights at the start and end of each week, and one in the middle which will be predominantly a skill-based session.

Batty said final details were still to be resolved, but it was likely that there would be two centres in Brisbane to cover all Brisbane and Sunshine Coast players, and one on the Gold Coast for Gold Coast and Country players.

In phase 2 from early February until early March the two physical sessions will continue, and for the mid-week session all players will return to train with their nominated QAFL clubs.

In phase 3 from early March to early April the final selection process will begin.

The Gold Coast/Country group and the Brisbane/Sunshine Coast group will conduct trials to pick a 25-player squad, culminating in two full-scale trials between the two groups in early April to facilitate the selection of the Scorpions side.

The Scorpions then will play three trial matches against TAC Cup opposition in late April / early May, in addition to the early part of the QAFL State League season, in preparation for the Australian U18 championships from 4 June to 6 July.

Queensland are drawn to open the national series against South Australia at Blacktown in Sydney on 4 June, followed by Vic Metro in Melbourne on 11 June.

Then they will play Northern Territory in south-east Queensland on 25 June, followed by NSW/ACT in Melbourne on 1 July and Tasmania in Melbourne on 6 July.

“We think it’s an outstanding program that will provide the very best opportunity for the best young players in Queensland to show what they can do,” said Batty.

“And it’s not just about players selected by the various AFLQ people who have come through the traditional channels.

“If a player thinks he deserves a trial, or more particularly is playing another sport at a decent level and wants a crack at AFL footy we want to hear from them,” he said.

Interested parties are invited to contact Bob Batty via email –

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