By Terry Wilson
Mackay product Harrison Arnold could easily end up in the unusual position of having played for three different clubs this season.
Arnold, who turned 20 a month ago, has already played NEAFL for the Gold Coast SUNS and QAFL for Broadbeach and could yet have a game or more for Southport, where he is rookie-listed, before season’s end.
It has been his efforts for Broadbeach, where he made his debut in Round One this year, that have earned him a nomination for the QAFL Rising Star Award.
After going through the SUNS Academy, Arnold was snapped up by Southport and trained with the NEAFL premiers pre-season before being ‘drafted’ to Broadbeach where he has impressed as a defender.
His progress was noticed by State selectors and he was selected in the Queensland squad for the representative match coming up on Saturday week.
At 190cm tall and weighing in at 86kg, Arnold is a handy size although he feels he needs to add a couple of kilograms.
Arnold said he was surprised to be given a Rising Star nomination. “I wasn’t really expecting it,” he said.
The youngster’s footballing days began in Mackay when he was part of the primary school Auskick program.
His parents wanted him to play soccer but they were convinced by his Godfather Teale Weller, who had strong ties with Redland, that Aussie rules was the go.
At the age of 16 he played seniors for the Eastern Swans in Mackay before he moved to the Gold Coast after completing high school.
Since then it has been a steep learning curve for somebody who started off as a half-forward type but who was thrown into defence by the Suns academy boss Andrew Raines.
A series of injuries have hampered Arnold’s progress, one of them he puts down to his days in cricket, where he was a handy fast bowler.
“In my Under 18 draft year I had a recurrence of stress fractures in my back,” he said.
“I had 12 months in my rehab process and it was pretty difficult. I ended up moving back home to be with family and friends.
“I came back to the SUNS Academy last year and I played in the NEAFL but in Round 13 I broke my arm.
“But I came back for one more game at the end of the season.
“Hopefully all that is behind me now because I pit in a full pre-season with Southport.”
As for his ambitions, Arnold is like every other young player. He would love to get on an AFL club’s list.
“Failing that I want to play at the highest level I can,” he said.
He would like to become a Jack Dunstan type of player.
Dunstan started off as a high half-forward before ending up in defence.
“He’s the type I’d like to emulate, like an intercepting half-back,” Arnold said.
Until then Arnold is content to continue to train with Southport and with Broadbeach, where he says he is learning plenty playing alongside the likes of ex-Collingwood big man Jason Cloke.
QAFL RISING STAR NOMINATIONS
Round 1: Nathan Colenso, Morningside Panthers
Round 2: Lochlan Harrop, Sandgate Hawks
Round 4: Angus O’Brien, Wilston Grange Gorillas
Round 5: Sam Hilton-Joyce, Surfers Paradise Demons
Round 6: Jack Wratten, Mt Gravatt Vultures
Round 7: Loki Haines, Sandgate Hawks
Round 8: Harrison Arnold, Broadbeach Cats