Queenslander Bourke to debut for Lions

By Ellie Grounds

The Lions will welcome their first Brisbane-born-and-bred debutant of the year this weekend when rookie Jordon Bourke takes to the field against Geelong.

The 19-year-old will become the Lions’ 10th debutant for the season, and second player recruited from the Hyundai Lions Academy.

Fellow Queenslander and Academy recruit Jonathon Freeman made his debut in Round 20 against the Crows, making August an exciting month for football fans in the Sunshine State.

Jordon is the son of former Bears ruckman Damian Bourke who, before moving to Brisbane in 1993, captained Geelong for three years, including the infamous 1989 grand final against Hawthorn.

Ironically, Bourke will make his debut against the Cats who could have selected him under the Father/Son rule at the 2012 Draft, but passed up the opportunity.

But fate would have him finding his way home to the Gabba, only a suburb away from his childhood home in Coorparoo, with the Lions selecting him with Pick No. 63 overall in the 2012 Rookie Draft.

This decision saw Bourke make history by becoming the first ever Lions Academy member to graduate onto the Lions’ official playing list.

Speaking after his selection, Bourke said he was filled with relief.

“During the National Draft you don’t have too many expectations going in, but then once your name doesn’t get called out it can be pretty disappointing,” he said.

“I was planning on continuing with footy next year even if it didn’t go ahead. You sort of do think you might not get picked up, you might not ever have an AFL career, so I think it’s a massive relief to say that you’re on a list.”

Standing at 193 cm tall and boasting impressive marking skills, Bourke shot to prominence in the 2011 NAB AFL U16 Championships, where he played a huge part in leading Queensland to claim the Division Two title.

His notable play and receipt of the Championships’ Division Two Most Valuable Player award then led him to be swiftly selected in the Australian Institute of Sport AFL Academy program in 2012.

He once again represented Queensland at the U18 Championships in 2012, where his promising ability to cover all areas of the field caught the Lions’ attention.

“I’ve played mainly key forward but also [have] been able to go down back a bit and potentially even on the wing for a little bit, so that was pretty much how I play – sort of pretty versatile for my height. Love a good contested mark and love a good leap at the ball,” Bourke said in December 2012.

Then Lions National Talent Manager Rob Kerr described Jordon as “a leading forward whose marking is his strength.”

“With his speed, agility and reach, we also think he has a lot of the attributes that could see him play as a defender if developed in that area of the ground,” Kerr said.

Bourke has certainly showcased throughout the year his extreme dedication to developing his skills as a defender.

“Obviously I’m still on the Rookie list this year, so hoping to just develop my game at the moment, working on the things that the coaches have sort of set out for me, so just developing my game as a defender,” he said in February.

“I came to the club sort of not knowing too must as a defender – I played my junior days as a forward. I think that will be my main focus at the moment.”

Bourke will make his debut for the Lions as a full forward, and will be joined by Jackson Paine, Zac O’Brien and Matthew Leuenberger, who have all been recalled for the Lions’ final game of the 2014 season.

The Lions take on Geelong this Saturday night at 7.40pm at Simonds Stadium.

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