Yorston’s AFLW dream comes true as draft wait ends with minutes to go

By Ant Wingard    @AntWingard

The future of All Australian midfielder Jacqueline Yorston in the AFL Women’s competition was almost over before it had even begun.

Yorston was considered among the most promising prospects emerging from the Queensland talent pool but was forced to wait until the dying stages of the draft to even find out her fate in the competition.

Taken with one of the Brisbane Lions’ two draft compensation selections that were awarded to the club following the exodus of players to expansion clubs in the offseason, Yorston’s destiny was announced at the conclusion of the actual draft and just minutes before the broadcast ended.

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“After Jesse [Tawhiao-Wardlaw] got called out, I thought that was all of our draft picks. I thought I had missed it,” Yorston told aflq.com.au.

Tawhiao-Wardlaw was the Lions’ final pick in the draft, taken with the 61st pick overall and seemingly announced the end of Brisbane’s involvement.

But just as all had seemed lost, current Lions AFLW player Nat Exon entered the stage and announced the club’s two draft compensations a whopping two hours and 25 minutes into the broadcast. Initially, the pair of picks weren’t scheduled to even be called out on the day.

“Dad said to wait and finally I got called out. I had a bit of a cry,” she said.

“I was sitting there awkwardly. I thought I was done and would have to have a crack next year.

“When she called it out I just put my head in my hands and thought no way did that just happen. My two best friends were sitting next to me and they just screamed. Nothing could beat it.”

After a successful season which included a starring performance for Queensland across the national championships and a premiership with QAFLW outfit Wilston Grange, Yorston was invited to the NAB AFLW Draft Combine in October as one of only three Queenslanders to do so.

The invitation to the combine seeming bookmarked her as one of the top draft candidates from the sunshine state in the eyes of the wider community, but for Yorston, that select accolade meant little in the bigger draft picture.

“I spoke to Jesse Henning about it. She went to the combine last year and didn’t get picked up.”

“I didn’t expect it to influence it.”

Yorston was one of two names announced at the end of the draft alongside Coorparoo defender Jade Ellenger who too admitted the prospect of getting drafted to the Lions seemed like a distant reality after the draft’s final pick.

“I was absolutely shocked. To hear my name read out in the last ten seconds was just, wow. I was about to turn the draft stream off,” Ellenger said.

Now though, the pair have laid a claim to a spot on the Brisbane Lions and Yorston is already looking ahead to Round 1 of the 2019 season.

“I want to play in round one. It’s a bit of a stretch but I’ll give it my all,” she said.

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