Plenty of draft surprises for Lions

By Beth Newman

South Australian, James Aish, was not expected to be around for the Brisbane Lions’ first selection at this year’s draft, but they were pretty happy he was.

With the top 10 selections more open leading into this year’s draft than in the past, Aish was linked to numerous clubs along the way.

When the Bulldogs took Marcus Bontempelli at pick no. 4, plenty of Lions fans would have been hoping Aish came to Queensland, and they got their man.

The Norwood premiership player brings plenty of senior experience with him, and said he can’t wait to get up to Queensland permanently.

“It’s pretty surreal, sitting there not knowing who was going to call me out so it was a bit of a whirlwind,” he said.

“I’m just very happy and pretty excited to start training and just meet all the boys.”

Aish will have a familiar face at the Lions, in the 2012 no. 8 pick, Sam Mayes, a former South Australia teammate.

“He sent me a message already and it’ll be good to see him again,” he said.

Aish said his senior experience, would hold him in good stead for the Lions.

“Playing with a lot of AFL players and against them, I think it’s a good insight into what it takes so hopefully I can get into pre-season and work from there,” he said.

Likened to Simon Black, the classy midfielder can’t wait to take some knowledge from the Lions legend.

“It’ll be good to learn from him,” he said.

“He’s a fantastic bloke as well.

“He can teach me as much as he can and I can improve and hopefully play in the midfield and help the team.”

The Lions picked up another surprise at pick 28, snapping up Vic Country captain, Lewis Taylor.

Taylor was widely tipped to be a top-15 selection, but the Geelong Falcon was still around for the Lions’ second round pick, and both the club and player were stoked.

“I’m rapt with it,” he said.

“I’m very grateful for the opportunity they can give me and can’t wait to get up there and meet all the coaches and meet all the boys and stuff and get into training.”

The youngster said he was particularly looking forward to meeting one of the Lions’ biggest name country recruits, in Jonathan Brown.

“Jono Brown’s from Warrnambool, which is only half an hour from my home, so it’ll good to meet him – another country boy,” he said.

Taylor’s only visited Brisbane once, but said he and his family were prepared for him to make the move.

“It’s just what you want to do if you want to have a career in the AFL,” he said.

Taylor has had to deal with more than most teenagers growing up, and said he was grateful for all of the support his club, the Geelong Falcons, gave him on and off the field.

“The staff that they have there really helped me with my development, both with footy but as a person as well,” he said.

“I can’t thank them enough so for how they treated me and the opportunity they gave me as well.”

Aish and Taylor were two of the Lions’ six selections on NAB AFL Draft night, along with Darcy Gardiner,  Daniel McStay, Tom Cutler and Nicholas Robertson.

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