Throughout the season, we’re going to get to know some of the Under-18 Scorpions a little bit better. First up, Lewis Radford.
Some people are good at sport, others are strong academically.
UQ Red Lion, Lewis Radford, is one of those people who excels in both areas, with humility to boot.
Radford took the year off footy last season, to focus on his final year of school and responsibilities as school captain of Brisbane Grammar School, but impressed selectors enough to be included in the Lions Academy over summer, and ultimately, the Scorpions training squad.
He joined the UQ Red Lions this season as part of the UQ AFL scholarship program, alongside Jordan Morrison, Zac Southern and Jordan McDonald.
A South Australian native, Radford played AFL in primary school, but the first club he joined was Everton Wolves juniors, when he moved to Brisbane.
Radford played his first senior game last month, for the Lions reserves against Morningside, and said it was a big learning curve.
“They were definitely happier to put a hip and shoulder on and a bit of push and shove, so that was a bit of a wake-up call,” he says.
Radford has a strong sporting background, playing as a winger for the premiership-winning BGS First XV rugby union side, as well as dabbling in cricket and athletics.
He says his rugby experience helped him deal with the physicality of the Panthers match.
“With the breakdown in rugby, I know it’s a bit rougher in there so you go in head first and just go for it,” he says.
“I definitely think rugby helped me – rather than going straight from the junior football into seniors.”
His 2012 rugby season was cut short after he broke his collarbone in the second last game, forcing him to miss Grammar’s final game, against Nudgee College, to decide the premier.
Radford’s dedication to sport and his teammates is obvious when he speaks about the lead-up to that final match.
““I got hit and I just heard bit of a pop and next thing I know my collar bone’s broken,” he says.
“The week leading up to it was really painful, I couldn’t even think about it (the game).
“But just being a part of it and seeing all the boys and the fact that we won, that was a great achievement.”
While he still loves rugby, at 179cm and 75kg, the 18-year-old says he is more naturally suited to Aussie Rules.
“I started to realise that I’d never be the size for rugby and so that was basically the biggest determining factor,” he says.
“There’s a lot of guys out there that are a lot better than me as well.
“I’d still love to play around with rugby but I know I’d never push for higher honours.”
Playing as a running half-back, Radford said he looked up to players like Crows legend, Andrew McLeod and Graham Johncock and hopes to emulate their game style.
After a “hectic” final year of school, Radford could be forgiven for trying to cut back in his first year of an Arts/Law degree at UQ.
However, the determined youngster has kept up his busy schedule this season, balancing state and club training with his studies, saying he can’t really prioritise one over the other.
“I’ve got to keep up a pretty high GPA,” he says.
“I’ve just got to keep it as high as I can, so I guess it’s really hard to put one in front of the other.
“My priority’s got to be what I’m doing at the time. So, when I’m at uni, it’s all uni. When I’m at footy, it’s all footy.”
The affable teenager says that playing in the AFL has always been in the back of his mind, but knows the importance of having other options.
“It’s always been there as my ultimate goal,” he says.
“I mean with school, I’ve tried to have a more realistic goal because you know how few players get drafted each year, so I ‘ve tried to really keep my head down with that.
“But, ultimately I’d love to get on a list and I guess I’ve just got to keep working towards that and really push myself.”
AFL Queensland state talent manager, Bob Batty, says Radford’s speed is his greatest attribute.
“Lewis is a switched-on kid. He’s very, very quick and he has good disposal skills,” Batty says.
“He reads the play well and he’s versatile.”
His state duties mean Radford may not have the opportunity to don a Red Lions Guernsey many times this season, Radford says he hopes he can turn out for UQ at some point through the season.
“(One of my aims this year) is to get out for the UQ team as well to repay the support and faith they’ve showed in me,” he says.
“It’s a great bunch of guys at the club and I’d like to be a part of the team on the field rather than just on the training paddock.”