QAFL – Round 1 2024 Preview

By Chris ‘Yeendy’ Yeend

We hit the ground running for a season-opener blockbuster between Morningside and Labrador to kick-start the Senior Men’s QAFL campaign.

The Panthers second-year coach Paul Egan is going head-to-head with former Panthers premiership coach Clint Watts in one of the more intriguing battles of the weekend.

Morningside had a challenging run home in the back end of the 2023 season where it lost a hat-trick of matches to eventual finalists Surfers Paradise, Broadbeach and Redland Victoria Point.

The Round 15 clash on the road at Powenyenna Oval perhaps played a key role in its ambition to make finals when it succumbed Sherwood by two-points; a match that was the last of a six-game losing streak despite a promising mid-season run.

Labrador were six-points away from making finals after it fell to Broadbeach by five-points in the final round in one of the most dramatic finishes to a home-and-away season in recent memory.




With the VFL playing a State League game against the SANFL, the bye in the competition means that Kyle Dunkley is free from Brisbane Lions VFL duties and can play for the team.

Dunkley impressed in the VFL last week for the Lions with three goals in an attacking midfield role to lead the team to a two-point win over the Pies. It was a very polished performance and one that showcased tremendous maturity.

The team will unfurl recruit – former Lion and Cat, Nakia Cockatoo who joins Dunkley in the midfield.

After missing most of 2022 and all of 2023 with injury, Luca Winton makes the jump from Sherwood and will settle in well under new coach Egan. He is a quality asset to this team and will deliver some quality spark with his tremendous field kicking.

The Panthers welcome one of its most exciting pieces to its puzzle with Matt Waters crossing over from Kenmore. Waters kicked 56 goals for the Bears in 2023 after being a vital cog with Matt Hammelmann for the Sharks in previous seasons. The addition of Waters to provide forward assistance to Keegan Downie instantly forms one of the strongest forwardline partnerships in the QAFL.

To wrap up its off-season recruiting, former Essendon listed and VFL player Garrett McDonagh slots in across half-back.



A half-forward line consisting of Nathan Wright, Cooper Anderson and Charlie Offermans is enough to put the doubt in any opposition coach’s mind. It’s one of the most athletic, strong and fast forward lines in this competition.

The return of former Gold Coast Sun and SANFL star Rhys Nicholls to Tigerland at half-back is going to be enormous, generating quality pace and poise while clearing from the backline.

After playing much of the 2023 season in the Reserves, former VFL, Academy and NAB League player Finn Brown gets his chance in the midfield alongside vice captain Tom Simpson, Matt Lee, Bailey Brown and returning Aiden Fyfe.

Former Noosa product Jesh Morgan gets his chance after a string of impressive performances for Park Orchards in the Eastern Football Netball League and will add another avenue to goal.


This is the most intriguing match of the weekend with the recruits and big-name returns spread across both teams, making this a box-office attraction.

With challenging conditions on offering due to the heavy wet weather, this will see Labrador stand out a lot more. It typically isn’t a high-scoring team and has a shorter playing list that would be more than capable at ground level.

Morningside will embrace the recruitment of McDonagh across half-back because he is the perfect player for these types of conditions and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he is the stand-out player for his team on the day.

Watts returns to his old stomping ground as coach, facing off against his former side. This old dog might have a few extra tricks up his sleeve in the coaches box to guide his team to victory in the wet.

Labrador by 17-points 

In other matches, reigning premiers Aspley will host a tough Broadbeach outfit at home, Palm Beach Currumbin will head north to Salk Oval to face Wilston Grange, 2023 Runners Up Redland Victoria Point will take on Maroochydore at Totally Workwear Park, Noosa will meet Surfers Paradise at Rococo Oval, while Mt Gravatt and Sherwood fuel their rivalry.  

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