Queenslanders in the NAB Challenge mix

It’s only 10 days until the first Queensland NAB Challenge game at Burpengary between the Lions and SUNS, so we had a look at which up and coming Queenslanders are in the mix for a game.

While no games are guaranteed, with such a talented crop of young Queenslanders coming through the system, all have plenty of good football ahead of them.

Lets have a look at who we could be seeing out on the park this NAB Challenge.


Archie Smith – Brisbane Lions

He might not have played a home and away game for the Lions yet, but Smith looks ready to announce himself in the ruck this year. He went head to head with Stefan Martin in the intra-club last Friday, and didn’t look out of place at all in the physical encounter. He is reading the play a lot better than this time last year, and influencing himself around the grounds. Look for him to have a crack against SUN Tom Nicholas at Burpengary next Saturday, and ex-sparring partner Billy Longer in Mackay.


Eric Hipwood – Brisbane Lions

The first of the Lions two academy picks in the National Draft last year, Hipwood is going to take time to bulk up and fill out his slender frame, but is a real chance of getting a look in at some stage during the NAB Challenge. The biggest question will be where to play him. Hipwood made a name for himself in the Queensland Under 18 Team due to his ability to play both ends of the ground. He impressed as a forward in their intra-club last week, kicking 2.1. Could get first crack down there.


Ben Keays – Brisbane Lions

Keays hasn’t taken a backward step since arriving at the den. The prolific Under 18’s midfielder went straight to work after draft day, working closely with some of the Lions best. With names like Rockliff, Beams, Zorko and Rich, it’s not going to be easy cracking in to the midfield, but his pre-season work load suggests he will get a run during the NAB Challenge, and could be in line for an early-season debut.


Tom Bell – Brisbane Lions

He might be a bit older than the rest, but you won’t have to wait long to see Brisbane boy, and new recruit Tom Bell in Lions colours; he looks like he will slot right into their lineup. The bigger body of Bell will only help youngsters around him, so look for him to find his feet throughout the NAB Challenge before a round 1 debut.


Liam Dawson – Brisbane Lions

After a very solid 10 games for Brisbane last year, Dawson will look to take the next step in 2016 by locking down a regular senior spot, and it all starts in the NAB Challenge. Dawso was used of half-back last year, providing plenty of run off half-back, but as he works on improving his tank, look for him to run through the midfield as well.


Jesse Joyce – Gold Coast SUNS

After being pre-selected by the SUNS before the 2015 Rookie Draft, Joyce has been putting the hard yards in at Metricon Stadium over summer. The strong bodied midfield/defender has got a bit of work ahead of him to be looked at for a home and away debut, but would be more than up to it if Rocket Eade gives him the tap on the shoulder during any of the SUNS three NAB Challenge matches.


With four NAB Challenge games in Queensland this year, here are some of the local products that could also be making the trek home for a game.


St Kilda

Nick Riewoldt

David Armitage

Tom Hickey

Sam Gilbert


Greater Western Sydney

Sam Reid


Queensland NAB Challenge games

Brisbane vs. Gold Coast, Sunday February 21, Moreton Bay Central Sports Complex

Brisbane vs. St Kilda, Sunday March 6, Harrop Park – Mackay

Gold Coast vs. Adelaide, Friday March 11, Metricon Stadium

Brisbane vs. GWS, Sunday March 13, Metricon Stadium

For more information or to purchase tickets, go to http://www.afl.com.au/fixture/nab-challenge

By Andrew Wiles

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