QLD talent on display at Lions media day

By Grant Hitzman

The Lions rolled into their third week of pre-season training at Yeronga yesterday, sweating out an intense conditioning session in humid 30 degree heat. 

Boxing, time-trials, sprints and the spin cycle were on the cards for Lions players who trained relentlessly until midday before an open media session.

AFL Queensland caught up with some of the club’s home grown talent, who discussed the upcoming draft, pre-season struggles, making it to the big time and five quick fire questions. 


Born and bred on the Gold Coast, Dayne Zorko will head into his fourth AFL season in 2015 after joining the Lions as a mature age recruit in 2012. The pint sized half-forward has become a key cog in Brisbane’s attack in the last three years; his genuine speed and ball winning ability a nightmare for opposition players.

Draft night is fast approaching for the nation’s best young players, what do you remember about getting to an AFL club?

Well I actually wasn’t in the draft; I went through the trade period so it was a little bit different for me. I got overlooked in my first two drafts and I ended up getting picked up in the trade period. During that time I was really excited when Brisbane picked me up and tossed me that lifeline.

What was it like for you missing out on those two drafts?

It did deter me a bit, the first one in particular hurt a lot if I’m being totally honest. But it (going undrafted) only made me want to work harder and really try and get onto an AFL list and thankfully Brisbane gave me that opportunity to live my dream.

You’ve got a few preseasons under your belt now, what is the best and worst part of it?

The best is the weekend when you don’t have to train and the worst is probably all the conditioning work you have to do. But when you get through it it’s another session in the bank and you are closer to the start of the season – so that’s really the best thing about it.

Who have you noticed this pre-season taking it to the next level and putting in the hard yards?

There’s been a few guys that I’ve noticed – Jackson Paine is one – he obviously hasn’t had a preseason for the last few years and has had surgeries, but he’s been a bit of a dark horse this year and so has Ryan Lester as well, he’s really picked up his running capacity and is pushing up into the A and B group which is fantastic to see.

Any teammates that have been particularly annoying you this pre-season?

No one really to be honest, I’d like to think that I get along with everyone; Jackson Paine is looking at me funny, so him.

You were born and raised on the Gold Coast and play for the Lions, have you got a favourite spot in Queensland?

It’s obviously nice to get back home down the coast, but we’ve had a few camps with Brisbane up to Noosa in the last few years and it is quickly becoming one of my more favourable places in Queensland.

Did you have a favourite player growing up?

Definitely Robert Harvey, I went for St. Kilda when I was growing up and there were definitely a few posters on the wall of him, I idolised the guy.

Quick Fire Five

Dogs or Cats?


Beach or Snow?


Who would play you in a movie?

Mark Wahlberg

Game winning spoil or take a specky?

Has to be a hanger

Favourite superhero?



18-year old mobile defender, Liam Dawson, officially realised a childhood dream last month when the Lions elected to use pick No.44 in the upcoming national draft on their academy product. The humbly spoken Brisbanite was overwhelmed to remain in his home city after five consecutive summers of training in the Hyundai Brisbane Lions Academy. 

Draft night is just eight days away, but fortunately the Lions have already locked you in as an academy selection, how does that feel?

Yeah it’s always nice to stay around your home town; I grew up in Brisbane so I can’t thank the academy enough. The weight off the shoulders is massive, all the other boys have to wait another week or two but I’m already at the club training so it’s a good feeling. 

When you found out the Lions were going to use a draft pick on you, what was your reaction and who was the first person you told?

Well I was actually sitting at home on the computer watching it with my mum and we saw that Richmond bid and the Lions matched it. We weren’t really sure how it worked because we thought that there would be another bid or something but the bidding meeting was over in 8 minutes then I realised I was a Lion. Once we all figured out what just happened mum was in tears and it was a really exciting time. 

This is your first proper pre-season as an AFL player, what has been the worst and best part?

There is no worst part so far, it’s just the running that is hard and I’m not exactly the fittest bloke so it’s one of my deficiencies that I’m trying to work on. The best part is just the whole experience, all the boys are really welcoming and the elite standard and being around that kind of environment is an experience in itself, it’s pretty awesome.

What player have you looked to so far as a mentor through your time at the academy and this pre-season?

I know a few of the boys from last summer but Justin Clarke has gone through all the drills I’ve done and he has been a big help for me so far. Jono Freeman is awesome as well and it’s great to chat to boys like Darcy Gardener, Reddo (Jack Redden) and Rog (Daniel Merrett) who have been have been really supportive too.

A big part of the pre-season is making sure your diet is on point, is there any food you’re missing so far?

I just got my dietary stuff yesterday actually so I’m trying to get a hang of it and work into it. It’s something I’m going to have to get used to I suppose, but Mum will help in that department and she does all the food stuff at home, so I think she’ll keep me on track.

As a former Collingwood supporter, what is like meeting and getting to train with Dayne Beams?

It was weird at the start because I’ve been following him on Instagram for two years and have been watching his career closely. Now to train and play with him at the same team is a crazy thing and I’m still trying to get my head around it, but to have him at the club is an awesome experience.

Quick Fire Five

Dogs or Cats?


Beach or Snow?

Beach – Love the surf

Favourite superhero?


Dream holiday destination?

I’ve ticked a few holiday dreams off already actually but I’ve gotta say Bali – the nice part anyway

Game winning spoil or take a specky?

Gotta go the spoil for sure


Towering key position prospect Harris Andrews has had a whirlwind 12 months that has seen the 200cm youngster go from no-name to a listed AFL player. The Aspley local grabbed the attention of recruiters in 2013 when he slotted 80 goals in just 17 games and showed flexibility at both ends of the ground. The Lions didn’t give other clubs a chance of securing the services of Harris, electing to use Pick No. 63 in the upcoming National Draft on the Aspley tall.

You’ve come a long way in the last year, what went through your mind when you found out you would be a professional footballer next year?

Getting drafted definitely wasn’t on my agenda last year. This year was my first as part of the Academy and before then, I didn’t really see myself as being any good at footy. I just sort of played with my mates at Aspley. It’s been a crazy 12 months but I’m pretty thrilled about what lies ahead.

So you’re into pre-season now and this is your first week at the club training, what has it been like?

Yeah I’ve just finished school so it has been really full on and straight into it, but it’s just been good to meet all the boys that has been the best part so far, the training has been really tough though. 

What teammate has been a mentor for you so far and has helped you in your first week?

Probably Jono Freeman. He has been really good to me and he has helped me know where to go and what to do around the club. Archie (Smith) and a few of the younger boys have really helped too.

Did you have a favourite player and team growing up?

I moved to Brisbane when I was five years old, and I was in Melbourne before that. I grew up a Brisbane Lions fan when I was a young fella but when I was about 11 or 12 I became a Bombers fan because dad was a really passionate Essendon supporter. My favourite player is probably Jake Carlisle, there is just something about his game I love watching.

Any memories from your junior footy days that stand out?

Yeah I played at Aspley and I had the chance to play in a lot of premierships and finals with them, so that was obviously a stand out. But honestly it was probably just all the mates I got to meet and hang out with that was the best experience.

What are your goals throughout the pre-season and is there any part of your game you particularly want to work on?

Yeah obviously coming in as a new player at a club I just want to learn as much as I can and just absorb information from the players and coaches who know what they are talking about. It’s all really new to me and football as a job is a whole different lifestyle, especially at this high level. Probably just train hard and put on weight are my short term goals for now.

Do you have any particular goals for next year playing wise?

I’ll probably just try to focus on the NEAFL and if I’m playing good footy in the NEAFL we can see what happens. But I’m just going to try and get a good form of football and who knows what will happen.

Quick Fire Five

Dream holiday destination?

San Francisco 

Favourite footy commentator?

Bruce McAvaney

Favourite Meal?


Three words that describe you?

Humble. Energetic. Communicator

Game winning spoil or take a specky?

Spoil for sure

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