By Beth Newman
The first official step towards the 2014 draft for Queensland takes place on Saturday, when the Brisbane Lions Academy takes on the Gold Coast SUNS Academy.
The first of two matches to help determine the make-up of this year’s state team, will see AIS-AFL Academy members, Lachie Weller (Gold Coast), Matt Hammelmann (Brisbane) and Liam Dawson (Brisbane), line up alongside some of the state’s top talent.
Lions Academy head coach, Scott Borlace, said the players had been impressive over the summer, and were raring to go for their first competitive hit-out.
“In terms of willingness to try and execute what we’re doing in training, in terms of game sense and training, they’ve, been very good and very professional,” he said.
“They should be well-prepared.”
Matt Uebergang returns to the side this year, after making his way back into the Academy for 2013, along with Mayne’s Henry Leong.
Bottom ager Corey Wagner put his best foot forward in the pre-season, with an impressive three kilometre time trial.
Borlace said the guys would be going out to continue a successful record, after winning both Academy matches last year, but ultimately the match was about pushing their case for state selection.
“The players are excited about it that and you get that feeling of rivalry,” he said.
“At the end of the day, the result is irrelevant. We want them to play a style of play, so they have an opportunity to get picked by Queensland.”
“Basically, we’re trying to play an AFL game style and we can get the community to see who’s up to it.”
Aaron Rogers, in his first season as SUNS Academy head coach, said Cairns’ Glendon Woosup had impressed in last weekend’s North Queensland v Central Queensland match in Townsville, and would be one to watch on Saturday.
“He’s an exceptional human being and he did some exciting things for North Queensland last week, as a bottom-ager, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he can produce.”
Rogers said Cassidy Haberfield, Darcy Trask, Tom Michael and James Farley-Smith were among those who had stood out in pre-season.
Rogers echoed Borlace’s sentiment that his focus was on helping players progress into the state side, but said the SUNS Academy side would like to buck the trend of recent Lions Academy wins.
“For the talent, it’s a catalyst to selecting the U18 state side,” he said.
“I don’t think the SUNS have won too many and so they’re keen to notch up a win and the players feel that as a motivation.
“If they play well as a team, the individual rewards will come too.”
The Gold Coast SUNS Academy takes in North Queensland as well as the Gold Coast region, while the Brisbane Lions Academy covers Brisbane Metro, Sunshine Coast, Wide Bay and the Darling Downs.
Twenty-five players will be selected from Saturday’s match to play for a preliminary Queensland squad against Morningside, before a second Academy match on March 15.
Saturday’s match starts at 1:00pm at Leyshon Park, Yeronga.
Gold Coast SUNS Academy squad:
|6||Tom||Thynne||12/03/1996||177||73||Palm Beach Currumbin|
|9||Joshua||Chiswell||28/12/1996||187||82||Mackay City Hawks|
|17||Glendon||Woosup||3/07/1997||181||78||North Cairns Tigers|
|22||Kyle||Emery||24/05/1996||185||75||Palm Beach Currumbin|
|39||Mitchell||Koch||13/08/1996||180||77||North Cairns Tigers|
|41||Cody||Filewood||29/08/1997||182||77||North Mackay Saints|
|42||Jordan||Harding||25/06/1997||183||86.5||North Mackay Saints|
Brisbane Lions Academy squad:
|No.||Name||D.O.B.||Heigt (cm)||Weight (kg)||Club|
|14||RADFORD, Lewis||11.01.1995||179||75.5||Uni of QLD|
|15||STEVENSON, Cameron||24.05.1996||180.2||71||Uni of QLD|
|24||UEBERGANG, Matthew||6.01.1995||192.6||87.1||Western Magpies|
|29||DENNIS, Nate||19.08.1097||200||79.4||Uni of QLD/Rookie|