Up to seven Queenslanders could take the field for the Brisbane Lions in their first NAB Challenge match.
Dayne Zorko, Andrew Raines, Jono Freeman and rookies Isaac Conway, Archie Smith, Jordon Bourke and Sam Michael have all been named in the Lions’ initial squad ahead of Thursday night’s clash with Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium.
The squad will be a relatively inexperienced one for the Lions’ first match under new coach, Justin Leppitsch, with big names including Daniel Rich, Daniel Merrett and Jonathan Brown (foot) rested or unavailable.
Plenty of eyes will be on first-round draft pick, James Aish, in the match, in his first AFL hit-out.
With Brown entering his final year of footy, fans will also likely be looking for glimpses of potential from key forward prospects, Freeman and Michael Close.
Leppitsch has been impressed with Freeman, a Sunshine Coast junior, and his progress over the pre-season.
“He’s a really exciting young boy and he’s got great athleticism for a big man,” he said.
“(Jono) is still raw with his body shape, but he looks really good and that’s encouraging.”
Conway’s work rate in the summer has also been a positive, Leppitsch said.
“Isaac, as a rookie, he’s still learning his craft and trying to build his motor and make a career for himself as well,” he said.
“It’s exciting to have some Queenslanders (on our list).”
The Lions’ young defence will be tested against the Hawks, who have included spearhead Jarryd Roughead and partners in crime Jack Gunston and Luke Breust in their side.
Stars Sam Mitchell and Jordan Lewis will also feature among 13 2013 premiership players for the Hawks , while Matt Suckling will make his long-awaited return from a knee reconstruction.
Squads will be reduced to 26 players closer to the match, with teams allowed six interchange players and two subs for NAB Challenge matches.
Other modified rules include the ability to score a nine-point super goal, for majors kicked from outside the 50m arc.
2. Jarryd Roughead, 3. Jordan Lewis, 4. Matt Suckling, 5. Sam Mitchell, 7. Ben McEvoy, 8. Taylor Duryea, 9. Shaun Burgoyne, 10. Bradley Hill, 13. Kyle Cheney, 16. Isaac Smith, 18. Jonothon Ceglar, 19. Jack Gunston, 20. David Hale, 21. Ben Ross, 22. Luke Breust, 23. Tim O’Brien, 26. Liam Shiels, 28. Paul Puopolo, 29. Will Langford, 30. Luke Lowden, 31. Angus Litherland, 32 Jonathan Simpkin, 33. Cyril Rioli, 35. Sam Grimley, 36. Derick Wanganeen, 38. Mitch Hallahan, 39. Alex Woodward, 40. Billy Hartung, 46. Kurt Heatherley
2. Ryan Harwood, 4. James Aish, 5. Jack Crisp, 6. Josh Green, 8. Rohan Bewick, 13. Trent West, 15. Dayne Zorko, 18. Nicholas Robertson, 19. Jordan Lisle, 22. Marco Paparone, 25. Daniel McStay, 26. Tom Cutler, 29. Andrew Raines, 31. James Polkinghorne, 32. Sam Mayes, 33. Michael Close, 34. Jonathan Freeman, 35. Ryan Lester, 36. Matt Maguire, 37. Patrick Wearden, 38. Tom Rockliff, 40. Isaac Conway, 41. Mitch Golby, 42. Justin Clarke, 43. Nicholas Hayes, 44. Archie Smith, 45. Jordon Bourke, 46. Sam Michael, 47. Zachary O’Brien