U18s’ Andrews appreciates state chance

By Beth Newman

Harris Andrews is not lacking in conversational ability, but it’s what he struggles to articulate, that tells you the most about him.

It’s hard for the 17 year-old to find the words to describe the last six months, which have seen him go from casual footballer to potential AFL draft prospect, but it’s clear how much it means to him.

“Last year I was just playing footy for the sake of it, I really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t really looking forward to anything,” he said.

“Then I got invited to the Academy testing and I just set a new goal, every time I passed one, like make the first cut at the Lions, and then just came up to here and now I’m in the state team.

”It’s pretty crazy.”

With this year his first opportunity to represent Queensland, 198cm Andrews is still getting used to the idea that playing AFL footy could lie at the end of this path.

“You see the superstars in our team and stuff like that, like (Liam) Dawson and Lachie Weller and you see them and they have all the clubs talking to them and it’s like, ‘woah, I’m actually playing with these guys this year and they’re going to be in the AFL’,” he said.

“It’s hard to explain, it’s just odd.”

Andrews has been one of the state’s stand outs, playing a key position role for Queensland, a far cry from a junior career in which he struggled to fit any particular spot.

“I wasn’t tall when I was young so I wasn’t really anything, I didn’t have a position but now that I’ve got the height and stuff I can sort of play,” he said.

Andrews was thrown in the deep end in his first national championships game, playing full back in the absence of Aspley’s Nick Jackson.

“I was really nervous, playing fullback,” he said.

“The bloke kicked the first goal of the game, so it got a bit worse after that, but it was good.

“You’ve got to really like it (fullback) I guess. I don’t mind it, but centre half-back’s really fun.

“If I’m getting a game, I’m pretty happy.”

The Padua College student estimates he’s added about 10kg to his frame since joining the Lions Academy in November last year, off the back of an 80-goal season for Aspley’s U18 side.

That extra weight has shown on the field, with the youngster showing a strong marking ability for his state and in senior QAFL football, with Wilston Grange.

A generally laidback person, Andrews seems to be relishing every new experience he’s had this year, including his switch to a key defensive post.

“I’ve really matured as a person, with footy,” he said.

While Andrews has an obvious passion for footy, an Essendon supporter his whole life and watching it whenever he can, it’s certainly not all he thinks about, juggling the sport with Year 12 studies.

“I don’t want to be too footy-sided, I just want to have that time away where I can get school work done,” he said.

“I go fishing a bit with a couple of the boys and we’ve got a bit of a competition going to see who can get the biggest fish.

“My mate, Liam, has caught a couple around the 25cm mark. We’re not massive fisherman but we just have a bit of fun.”

Despite playing a new, intense level of footy this season, Andrews says there’s one thing that has kept him with the Sherrin in hand, since becoming an Auskicker at five years old.

“It’s just playing with your mates,” he said.

“I do love the game but it’s the mates that you make through it, that make it enjoyable.”

While AFL footy is an ultimate dream for Andrews, he gives the impression that he is happy to play footy just for the love of it, regardless of the stakes, and that’s probably because until this year, that’s exactly what he has done.

Twitter: @bethknewman

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