Tag: Brisbane Lions

2021 AFLW Preview: Brisbane Lions

BRISBANE made a surprise finals appearance last season and will again be reaching for the stars under coach Craig Starcevich in 2021. Having continually undergone a wealth of list changes, the Lions’ squad is relatively young but more settled now and has the backing of brilliant leaders who look poised to continue their quest in proving the naysayers wrong.

2020 RECAP

The Lions were far and away the biggest surprise packet early last season, going undefeated across the first four rounds and setting the base for eventual finals qualification. A drawn Q-Clash in Round 3 was the only blemish on Brisbane’s record in that time, until a top-of-the-table clash with Fremantle sparked a string of three losses. Having gone down to the Dockers and Collingwood to end the regular season, Brisbane put up a fight against Carlton come finals time, but ultimately fell away in a game indicative of its season as a whole.

At the end of it all, the Lions had a third place finish in Conference A to show for their efforts as stalwart defender Kate Lutkins was named her side’s sole All Australian representative. The likes of best and fairest winner Emily Bates and spearhead tall forward Jesse Wardlaw enjoyed breakout seasons, helping form a good springboard for the Lions to leap off heading into 2021.

NEW FACES

Another promising draft crop should put the Lions in good stead in terms of squad depth, with a good mix of talents entering the den. Zimmorlei Farquharson headlined Brisbane’s intake at pick eight, putting her behind Gold Coast’s Annise Bradfield as the second Queenslander selected overall.

The speedy half-forward/winger is a threat on the attack; impacting both in the air and at ground level while also applying her pace going both ways. She represented her state at the Under 18 National Championships in 2018 and 2019, impressing as an under-ager and going on to win this year’s QAFLW premiership with the Yeronga Devils. The Lions Academy graduate has great versatility, a trait consistent with the remaining draftees.

Indy Tahau was the next taken at pick 37, another athletic type whose dynamism suits a range of roles. The South Adelaide tall has family ties to the Sunshine State and has already played senior football, promising to bring great competitiveness across all levels for the Lions. Mature-age recruit Ruby Svarc, the sister of 2020 standout Cathy, is another promising inclusion. The former Essendon VFLW dasher plays much like her sibling with terrific run-and-carry, moving the game forward aggressively. At 27-years-old, her readymade status suits the Lions’ upward trend.

Elsewhere, Brisbane’s only trade action saw Taylor Smith recruited from Gold Coast. The developing Suns Academy product is a tall with good athleticism and upside. Courtney Hodder was a rookie selection, while Beth Pinchin finally gets her shot at the top level as a replacement player, as Sharni Webb sits out the 2021 season due to pregnancy.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

Listed at number five in Draft Central’s AFLW 10 Under 10 to watch series, Nat Grider is one to keep an eye on this year. The 20-year-old is poised to enter her third season of top flight football and after playing just twice in her maiden campaign, will be full of confidence having cemented her spot across all seven games in 2020.

The versatile 171cm defender went from strength to strength last year and now has some solid experience under her belt, making her a dependable option when shutting down opposition forwards, intercepting or rebounding out of the back half. With the potential to also play through midfield, Grider has some promising upside and came into the competition as a highly touted junior. Should she continue her upward trajectory, she could be a key player in Brisbane’s push for consecutive finals berths.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

Most point towards Brisbane’s youth upon first glance at its list, but make no mistake that the famed ‘foundation eight’ will be at the centre of their side’s premiership quest. The crew of inaugural Lions will be shaved down to seven this year with Webb’s absence, but are well represented in the leadership group with skipper Emma Zielke flanked by vice-captain Breanna Koenen, 2020 All Australian Lutkins, Shannon Campbell, and Bates. Fellow foundation members Ally Anderson and Jess Wuetschner are also set to go around once again and have proven their class across multiple seasons. Should these unmistakable leaders continue to bind together and support the Lions’ exciting youth, they could climb to the top of the tree in years to come, if not now.

QUESTION MARK

A lingering theme surrounding Brisbane’s 2020 campaign was its steep fall-off after the halfway mark. The Lions were able to lean on their mix of hardened leaders and youthful exuberance to go undefeated across the first four rounds, but came up short against some stiff opposition thereafter. Capturing greater consistency across the whole season will be key and the growing experience levels of the squad as a whole should put Brisbane in good stead. But having arguably overachieved in 2020, the question remains; will the Lions fall away again in 2021?

FINAL WORD

Brisbane is beginning to look like a settled squad after bearing the brunt of expansion, with the building blocks of a finals contender now set. Experience will count for a lot as the Lions strive to become more consistent and set the standard for a raft of promising youngsters to work towards. A better-than-expected finish in 2020 will perhaps bring some unwanted expectation, but this is a side capable of fighting and causing upsets against highly fancied teams caught lacking. Finals should again be the goal, but it will be tough.

Featured Image: Lions skipper Emma Zielke leads her side out | Credit: Brisbane Lions/AFL Media

2020 AFL Draft recap: Brisbane Lions

BRISBANE is a side on the up and pressing hard to hit the top of the pile, with its trade and draft hauls over the last couple of years indicative such movement. The Lions again went in holding an early-second rounder and built a hand thereafter which allowed them to match incoming bids on their academy talent, before also being able to make a couple other later selections. In the end, two of Brisbane’s homegrown talents landed at the club, while the Lions’ love affair with Vic Country products continued and a developing tall also entered the elite ranks.

BRISBANE

National Draft:
#24 Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)
#43 Harry Sharp (GWV Rebels/Vic Country)
#48 Henry Smith (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Rookies:
Grant Birchall (Re-listed), Carter Michael (Academy), Deividas Uosis (Cat B)

Brisbane’s first point of call came as Collingwood placed a first round bid on leading academy talent Blake Coleman, which had the Lions scrambling to adjust their hand. The bid, which Collingwood also flirted with its picks in the teens, was inevitably matched at 24 and Coleman was able to join his elder brother, Keidean in the maroon, blue, and gold. He promises to bring some spark to the Lions’ attacking 50 in the long term with clean hands, speed, and terrific goal sense among his greatest weapons as a small forward.

The Lions were next put on the clock in round three, where both of their remaining two National Draft selections were made. Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels graduate Harry Sharp was the Lions’ seemingly ritual Vic Country pick this time around at 43, having made a name for himself by smashing the draft combine 2km time trial record (5:28) this year. He is a bolter of sorts with obvious running strengths and high upside in his midfield development. 202cm South Australian Henry Smith then rounded out the Lions’ haul just five selections later. He spent most of his SANFL Under 18s season as a key forward who rotated through the ruck, with his contested marking and efforts at ground level key traits to build off.

Looking at Brisbane’s rookie haul, Grant Birchall and Deividas Uosis made for selections which were already made known prior to the fact. Birchall was re-listed as he winds down a stellar AFL career, Uosis is an Irish convert to the code who was born in Lithuania and committed to the club in February this year. The latter was a Category B selection, with academy product Carter Michael put onto the Category A list despite not being called out in the Rookie Draft. He was a key feature for the Lions in this year’s Academy Series while also plying his trade off half-back and on both sides of midfield for Maroochydore in the QAFL. It made for a relatively straightforward rookie intake, with five fresh talents entering the club overall along with Birchall.

Featured Image: RF Photography

2020 AFL Draft Preview: Brisbane Lions

WITH the 2020 trade period done and dusted, it is now time for clubs and fans alike to turn their attention to the draft. Between now and draft day (December 9), clubs will have the opportunity to exchange picks until the final order is formed a couple of days out. While the chaos ensues, Draft Central takes a look at how each club may approach the upcoming intake opportunities with the hand they formed at the close of trade period. Obviously they are subject to heavy change, so perhaps we can predict some of that movement here.

Brisbane is the next side under the microscope, fresh off a season good enough for fourth spot in the final standings. As a team looking to truly contend for the premiership over the coming years, the Lions have traded down the order a touch and focused on securing mature talent from other clubs to further aid their push. A strong academy cohort has also seen them bolster their late hand, with five of the Lions’ current seven picks sitting in the third and fourth rounds. There also lies an opportunity to bring in a second round talent, though the Lions are said to only be looking to use two to three picks overall.

>> Power Rankings: November Update

CURRENT PICKS*: 25, 53, 58, 63, 68, 69, 94
* – denotes as of November 20

>> Podcast: The current best AFL Draft hands

LIKELY ACADEMY/FATHER-SON PICKS:

Blake Coleman (Academy), Saxon Crozier (Academy), Carter Michael (Academy)

>> Podcast: The best academy/father-son hauls

LIST NEEDS:

Best available

FIRST PICK OPTIONS:
(Pick 25)

As it stands, Brisbane’s first selection will be made in the 20s for the third year running, signalling the Lions’ steep rise and clear intentions. While it is subject to trade offers, Brisbane could get some good value from the pick despite not having any glaring list needs. Perhaps a running half-back would provide long-term cover for the ageing Daniel Rich and Grant Birchall with Alex Witherden out the door, or a point of difference through midfield could be the way to go.

Zavier Maher is a player who has been linked with top 25 honours of late and may come into contention. Brisbane has been known for selecting Vic Country players over the years and the Murray Bushrangers product has all the speed, grunt and competitiveness Brisbane would love. Although, the Lions have stocked up on inside midfielders with their first picks in 2018 and 2019, obtaining Ely Smith and Deven Robertson.

Should they look elsewhere because of that factor, a bid for Hawthorn NGA prospect Connor Downie may be in the offing. Given the pick will be pushed back slightly, it will fall right into the Eastern Ranges captain’s range, and he could be the attacking half-back Brisbane is after. Jack Carroll has his first round suitors but is a classy half-back/midfielder who may fit the bill if available, while Nathan O’Driscoll could be the one and join former Perth teammate, Robertson at the elite level.

LIVE TRADE OPTIONS:

An early bid for one of Brisbane’s academy prospects may send its list management team into a scramble trying to scrounge the points to match, though the Lions’ cover in that department looks quite sound after a raft of pick swaps during trade period. Given they have traded out of the first round this year and into that of 2021, the Lions may one of the quieter clubs at this year’s draft and obtain a rather straightforward hand. Pick 25 may be of interest to other clubs wanting to move up the order, with picks from the late-second round onwards arguably more relevant to Brisbane, unless it is keen on a particular player. With no glaring list needs, there is a good sense of freedom in what the Queensland-based club can do.

THE KEY QUESTIONS:

Will Brisbane match bids inside the top 30 for their academy players?

Which academy players will Brisbane end up with?

Will other clubs move in for Brisbane’s overlooked academy players?

Will Brisbane hold on to pick 25?

Will Brisbane look to further bolster its 2021 draft hand?

Featured Image: RF Photography

EXPLAINER | Pocket Podcast: The best academy & father-son hauls

OVER the last week, Draft Central launched its brand new series of pocket podcasts, a collection of short-form discussions which narrow in on a range of topics heading into the 2020 AFL Draft. In the next edition, Chief Editor Peter Williams again sat down with AFL Draft Editor Michael Alvaro to discuss which AFL club shapes as boasting the strongest combined academy and father-son hauls.

The Next Generation Academy (NGA) and Northern Academy programs have garnered plenty of attention as we prepare for what will arguably be the most compromised AFL Draft in history. Adding fuel to the fire, consensus number one prospect Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is a Western Bulldogs NGA product, while fellow potential top 10 picks Braeden Campbell (Sydney) and Lachlan Jones (Port Adelaide) are also already aligned to clubs. Add to that Gold Coast’s pre-listing rights and access to the Darwin zone, as well as some handy father-son prospects overall, and around a quarter of the likely draft pool will include club-aligned juniors.

It got our editors thinking, ‘which club lays claim to the strongest academy and father-son pool?’. We outline the strongest eight hauls, and touch on a few others to look out for in the latest pocket podcast.

To listen to the discussion in full, click here.

Here are some of the strongest likely academy and father-son hauls:

Sydney:
Braeden Campbell (Academy) | 181cm/75kg | Midfielder/Forward | Range: 8-15
Errol Gulden (Academy) | 175cm/75kg | Outside Midfielder/Small Utility | Range: 15-30

Gold Coast:
Alex Davies (Academy) | 192cm/85kg | Inside Midfielder | Range: 10-15
Joel Jeffrey (Darwin Zone) | 192cm/80kg | Tall Utility | Range: 20-30

Fremantle:
Joel Western (NGA) | 172cm/68kg | Midfielder/Small Forward | Range: 25-40
Brandon Walker (NGA) | 184cm/75kg | Medium Defender | Range: 25-40

Port Adelaide:
Lachlan Jones (NGA) | 186cm/89kg | General Defender | Range: 7-12
Taj Schofield (F/S) | 178cm/72kg | Outside Midfielder/Forward | Range: 35+

Western Bulldogs:
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (NGA) | 195cm/90kg | Key Forward | Range: 1-5
Ewan Macpherson (F/S) | 181cm/82kg | Defender/Midfielder | Range: Late/Rookie
Cody Raak (NGA) | 190cm/78kg | Defender | Range: Rookie

Adelaide:
Luke Edwards (F/S) | 188cm/83kg | Inside Midfielder/Utility | Range: 30-45
Tariek Newchurch (NGA) | Small Forward/Midfielder | Range: 30-45
James Borlase (NGA) | 192cm/93kg | Tall Utility | Range: 40+

Brisbane:
Blake Coleman (Academy) | 181cm/79kg | Small Forward | Range: 30-45
Carter Michael (Academy) | 188cm/74kg | Balanced Midfielder | Range: 40+
Saxon Crozier (Academy) | 190cm/80kg | Outside Midfielder | Range: Late-Rookie

Essendon:
Cody Brand (NGA) | 196cm/87kg | Key Defender | Range: 30-50
Joshua Eyre (NGA) | 198cm/85kg | Tall Utility | Range: Late/Rookie

There are plenty of others who loom as solid options not only aligned to the clubs listed here, but also to others around the league. Additionally, the selections above are not indicative of those clubs’ entire available pools, but rather the top prospects who have garnered the most attention.

Elsewhere, Reef McInnes is arguably a first round talent who may slide to the 20-30 range for Collingwood, another from their NGA program. Connor Downie is a proven quantity out of the Eastern Ranges, a line-breaking outside mover who boasts a penetrating left boot and is tied to Hawthorn through its NGA. Of course, another prospect who has already garnered plenty of attention is Maurice Rioli Jnr, the son of late Richmond and South Fremantle great, Maurice Rioli. He is a hard-tackling small forward with terrific goal sense and will most likely be picked up as a Richmond father-son, despite also qualifying for Fremantle under the same rule, and Essendon via the NGA.

Expect to see most of the above names find homes at AFL level in 2020, and for the inevitable top five bid on Ugle-Hagan to shape the pointy end of the draft. About a third of the top 30 names could well come from academies, bringing out plenty of baulking and bluffing in the bidding process. As we have seen in previous drafts, being aligned to a club does not always mean you will end up there, so those with big hauls will undoubtedly be made to pay a pretty price for their products.

>> Power Rankings: October Update

Past Episodes:
Key defenders kicking comparison
Offence from defence
Denver Grainger-Barras vs. Heath Chapman
The top non-aligned midfielders

Out to impress: QAFL Seniors Grand Final preview – Broadbeach vs. Morningside

AFTER nine regular season rounds and two enthralling weeks of finals, it all comes down to this. Undefeated minor premier, Broadbeach meets Morningside (2nd, 7-1) in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL) Grand Final on Saturday afternoon, and there is plenty of young talent primed to impact on the big stage.

In a new-look QAFL preview, Draft Central again narrows its focus to the young guns in action across the two best sides in the competition, including a bunch of Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast SUNS Academy products. We take a look at who shone when the sides previously met in 2020, while also touching on the strengths of some budding AFL Draft prospects in action.

2020 QAFL Grand Final

Broadbeach vs. Morningside
Saturday, September 26 | 2:30pm
Leyshon Park, Yeronga

Previous meeting…

Round 9 – Broadbeach 13.16 (94) def. Morningside 6.8 (44)

GOALS:

Broadbeach: C. Nutting 3, C. Cameron 3, J. Moncrieff 2, J. Fisher 2, R. Gilmore, B. Chadwick, B. Reeves
Morningside: L. Edwards 2, M. Hammelmann, S. Crozier, E. Mallan, B. Coleman

BEST:

Broadbeach: K. Boakye, E. Reeves, M. Lower, C. Cameron, B. Lowe, S. Mills
Morningside: W. Pendlebury, E. Mallan, L. Russ, R. William, B. Kethro, H. Joyce

It took until the final home-and-away round for the season’s two undefeated outfits to meet, with Broadbeach the side which would stand clear after a statement-making 50-point victory. The Cats’ range of scoring options ensure they pulled away strongly in the second half, overcoming some early woes in front of goal to put Morningside to the sword. Usual suspect and former Gold Coast forward Connor Nutting booted three goals in the winning effort, with fellow SUNS Academy graduate Ryan Gilmore and Bailey Reeves also hitting the scoreboard. For the Panthers, who showed plenty of room for improvement, current Brisbane Academy prospects Saxon Crozier and Blake Coleman also found the big sticks, but 24-year-old leading goalkicker Matt Hammelmann was kept to just one major in a big tick for Broadbeach’s defence.

The finals journey…

After both earning a week’s rest as the top two ranked teams, the preliminary finals proved a relatively straightforward stage for either side. Broadbeach scrapped to beat Sherwood, who employed some defensive tactics, to the tune of 43 points to book its spot in the decider. It should prove a handy tune-up for the Cats as their defence held up well, though the finishing up forward could do with some sharpening. Meanwhile, Morningside held off a pesky Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) to advance via a 19-point victory. Crozier, Coleman, and Hammelmann were all again among the goals, but Victorian recruit Matthew McGannon was named best afield for his efforts through midfield. The Panthers will need another big effort from their forwards this coming Saturday.

Ones to watch…

A race against time will determine whether leading Queensland draft prospect Alex Davies returns to action for Broadbeach. The big-bodied inside midfielder has only managed one outing for the Cats in 2020, and is recovering from an elbow injury which saw him miss the Academy Series. It could be a risk to play him ahead of next month’s draft combine, but he would add clean extraction skills in what is usually the most hotly contested game of the season.

Conversely, another current SUNS Academy player in Aiden Fyfe promises to break the game open for Broadbeach, with his sharp ball use by foot and outside run making for valuable assets when the Cats are in need of a spark. Set to be stationed either off half-back or on the wing, Fyfe looms as a good counter to some of Morningside’s runners. Namely, Saxon Crozier‘s capacity to penetrate on the outer will be a key to much of the Panthers’ success, along with Blake Coleman‘s creativity in attack. Both make up two of the leading Lions Academy prospects for 2020, and have adjusted well to senior football.

Staying with the midfield battle, Broadbeach’s Bailey Reeves has a good mix of ball-winning traits both inside and out, and should battle well against the likes of Toby Triffett and Matthew McGannon, two of Morningside’s prime movers. Up forward, livewire small Josh Gore will look to go big having turned heads in his over-age year. The SUNS Academy graduate should keep a Panthers defence which boasts Nathan Colenso busy alongside the likes of Connor Nutting and Ryan Gilmore. Both Gore and Nutting have booted 17 goals this season.

Tip: Broadbeach by 15

Featured Image: Broadbeach young guns Alex Davies and Josh Gore celebrate after a goal | Source: Russell Freeman Photography

AFL Draft Watch: Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under 17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at the NAB League Preseason Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me, and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft Watch is Brisbane Lions Academy member Tahj Abberley, a nippy small utility who was an outstanding preseason testing performer. The 179cm prospect ranked among Queensland’s top 10 in all four testing areas, utilising the speed, agility, and endurance he showcased on-field throughout his junior career. Abberley featured in all five of Brisbane’s NAB League outings and represented Queensland at the Under 16 and 17 levels and in 2020, he will be looking to crack into the Allies side while mixing up his usual midfield/forward role to feature off half-back.

PLAYER PAGE:

Tahj Abberley
Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies

DOB: April 23, 2002

Height: 179cm
Weight: 70kg

Position: Small utility

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATS: 5 games | 14.4 disposals | 4.0 marks | 2.8 tackles | 1.6 clearances | 1.8 inside 50s | 1.8 rebound 50s | 0.4 goals (2)

Strengths: Speed, agility, smarts, decision making
Improvements: Contested ball

>> GET TO KNOW Tahj Abberley

PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:

Standing Vertical Jump – 65cm
Running Vertical Jump (R/L) – 77cm/82cm
Speed (20m) – 3.02 seconds
Agility – 7.84 seconds
Endurance – 21.1

>> FULL RESULTS:
Jumps
Speed
Agility
Endurance

SCOUTING NOTES:

2019 Under 17 Futures vs. NSW/ACT

There’s not much of Abberley, but the Lions Academy product looked unfazed by having to get stuck in. Playing through the midfield and off half-back, Abberley was clean at ground level and smart with his hands out of congestion. His four clearances bode well for more midfield minutes, but Abberley also worked well around the ground to penetrate both arcs

2019 NAB League Round 5 vs. Sandringham

The bottom-ager looked most lively inside 50 during the second half, and was instrumental in Brisbane’s best few minutes of the game. He started up the field on a wing and took a nice overhead mark in the second quarter, backing it up with a courageous effort after half time. Abberley laid a fantastic tackle on the much bigger Corey Watts which went unrewarded, but he managed to snare a goal with a calm dribbled finish out the back.

2018 Under 16 National Championships vs. NSW/ACT

Abberley was a clever user throughout the game, nipping around with good pace and agility from the midfield, forward. He started well with a goal from a free kick after sharking the ball cleanly but being taken high. His left foot was damaging too with some handy forward 50 entries helping the Maroons to push the pace.

>> MORE BRISBANE LIONS U18s CONTENT

Q&As:

Blake Coleman
Saxon Crozier
Carter Michael

>> CATCH UP ON OUR DRAFT WATCH SERIES

Allies:
Jackson Callow
Braeden Campbell
Oliver Davis

South Australia:
Kaine Baldwin
Luke Edwards
Taj Schofield
Riley Thilthorpe

Vic Country:
Sam Berry
Jack Ginnivan
Nick Stevens
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Vic Metro:
Jackson Cardillo
Nikolas Cox
Connor Downie
Reef McInnes
Archie Perkins

Western Australia:
Denver Grainger-Barras
Logan McDonald
Nathan O’Driscoll

Get to know: Blake Coleman (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we are taking a look at some of the up-and-coming draft prospects for the 2020 draft. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Peter Williams chatted with Brisbane Lions Academy prospect Blake Coleman. As we delve into the Queensland-based talent, you’ll get to know everything you need to know about the brightest academy talents.

The eye-catching forward is near-unbeatable inside forward 50 at full flight, with his clean hands and goal sense setting him apart. While the 180cm prospect is working on his endurance, his speed and power over the short term have put him in good stead. Having represented Queensland at Under 16 and 17 level, and running out for Brisbane during the Academy Series, Coleman is looking to break into the Allies side and follow in the footsteps of brother, Keidean in reaching the elite level.

>> CATCH UP ON ALL OUR FEATURES

Q&A:


PW: How have you found testing today?

BC: “It’s been good. It’s been a long day but it’s good to come out and do it, see all the teams come out and the boys supporting each other through it. It’s always tough, especially with the yo-yo at the end but the boys’ support is good. It helps you get through it.”

 

You mentioned the yo-yo, is that one of the areas you’re looking to improve on?

“I’m definitely looking to improve on my fitness throughout my journey as I get better. I know I haven’t been the best but I’m just looking forward to improving which is always exciting.”

 

How’d you find the other tests?

“I found them pretty fun actually with the agility and 20-metre sprint. It’s good to test yourself and try to beat your previous records.”

 

Do you see those areas as your strengths, testing-wise?

“Yes, I think speed is something I love to use during games, which I find as a strength.”

 

How’s the preseason been overall so far?

“Preseason is always tough physically and mentally but it’s good. It’s always a challenge but it’s stuff you’ve got to do to improve as a player.”

 

You had some time to train with the senior Brisbane Lions boys as well?

“Yes, we got two weeks with Brisbane throughout the preseason which was a good experience for some of the boys in the squad. You can definitely see how fast it is and just the skills are very good. We definitely got a lot out of it.”

 

What’s it been like for you watching your brother getting a chance in the AFL as a 19-year-old?

“Watching him was good. I’m very proud of him because he obviously didn’t get selected in his (top-age) year but didn’t give up which our family is very proud of him (for). He kept going and he achieved in the end which was good.

“Getting to train with him throughout those weeks, he definitely made it much better because I’ve been around him obviously my whole life, it was good.”

 

Does that give you confidence as well, knowing that if you don’t get drafted at the first chance, you’ve got another year to prove yourself?

“Definitely. Knowing that if he could do it, I can as well. It’s something I can be confident with, I’ve just got to keep going and I know I can do it if I just stay strong and believe in myself.”

 

On-field, what do you see as your strengths?

“Maybe my marking. I love jumping and contesting for the ball, I love to tackle and put pressure on. There’s strengths there but there’s obviously room to improve as well.”

 

Do you have a preferred position?

“I play forward which I much prefer, but I do like going through the midfield as well which is a good experience.”

 

What goals are you hoping to tick off this year?

“My goals this year are to hopefully play all the Academy Series games, which would be nice to get through those. Then obviously the Allies squad which I’d love to play in, all games later in the year.

“Obviously at the end of the year to try and get drafted which would be something I’m very proud of – not only for me, but to make my family proud. Moving here with my brother was a tough decision but it was good, so the family back home would be very proud.”

Get to know: Tahj Abberley (Brisbane Lions Academy/Allies)

AS the postponement of all seasons commenced over the last few weeks, we are taking a look at some of the up-and-coming draft prospects for the 2020 draft. In a special Question and Answer (Q&A) feature, Draft Central‘s Peter Williams chatted with Brisbane Lions Academy prospect Tahj Abberley. As we delve into the Queensland-based talent, you’ll get to know everything you need to know about the brightest academy talents.

A nippy small who will look to use his smarts and slick ball use off half-back in 2020, Abberley has also proven handy on both sides of midfield and up forward. The 179cm academy jet also possesses outstanding agility, which was only highlighted in his state-best time of 7.84 seconds during preseason. Having represented Queensland at Under 16 and 17 level, run out for Aspley in the NEAFL, and also turned out for all five games in the NAB League last year, Abberley is already a renowned figure of the Lions’ Academy.

Q&A:

PW: Tahj, how’d you find the testing today?

TA: “It’s been good. “We’ve got heaps of boys here, it’s a good turn out and all the boys get around you when you do your testing. “We’re getting some good scores out there, it’s a good atmosphere.”

You fared pretty well in the yo-yo, is that one of your strengths?

“Yeah, it’s probably one of my strengths besides the sprints, it’s not my favourite. “But it’s good to get it over and done with.”

Are you coming here just trying to beat your own personal bests?

“Probably more so in the sprints. “My agility is probably another one of my strengths, getting lower (times) there. “But more so just my sprints, it’s probably one of the sides I need to work on.”

What do you see as your strengths on the field?

“Probably just my decision making by foot. “Under pressure, just the composure to hit an inside (lead).”

And the areas you’re looking to work on?

“More so my contested ball and my contested marks. “Although I’m not the tallest bloke out there but just when I do have to take those on-on-one marks, being able to back myself and knowing I can take the mark.”

What has the experience of going through the pathway and Lions Academy been like for you?

“For me it (started) when I was about 13. “Just from there they’ve helped me develop and helped me through the ranks, giving me advice on what I need to improve on and how to take that next step and bring that into my game.”

How has the preseason been overall?

“A bit of a long one. “I’m keen to start playing games, we’ve got one this weekend coming up (in March). “But a lot of running and hot days out in the sun. “I’m just keen to start playing games now.”

Are you setting any goals for the season?

“Just to play well in the Academy carnival and then further my development into the Allies and hopefully get into the draft.”

“And probably to take my leadership to another level, hopefully lead the boys out into a couple of games, then help develop more players and get a couple of wins for the Academy.”

What kind of role are you hoping to play this year?

I think I’ll try play a bit more half-back and then rotate on-ball. “I haven’t played too much defence in my time but hopefully I can learn a bit from that and start to play a bit more back and learn from some of the more experienced boys.”

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #17 – Emily Bates

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we look number 17 in our count, an underrated Brisbane Lions star who continues to impress since initially being a second pick in the first ever AFL Women’s Draft.

#17 Emily Bates

7 GAMES AVE: 19.9 disposals, 3.3 marks, 3.4 tackles, 3.1 inside 50s, 1.6 rebounds, 1 goal

The Brisbane Lions midfielder was originally taken with pick two back in the 2016 AFL Women’s Draft and played in the Lions’ inaugural match. Since then she has been a mainstay of the Brisbane line-up and whilst she has won two All-Australian nods and won a club best and fairest, Bates still seems to fly under the radar for most people outside of Queensland.

In seven games this year, Bates averaged a career-high 19.9 disposals, 3.3 marks and 3.1 inside 50s, indicating her impact forward of centre compared to previous years. Whilst her back 50 numbers remained the same, Bates was able to take on a more attacking role in 2020 and it resulted in her kicking just her second career AFL Women’s goal, and first since her debut season.

Another player unlucky not to make the final AFL Women’s All-Australian team, she had a four-week purple patch from Rounds 2 to 5. In that time she did not drop below 22 disposals, and averaged 24.5 disposals and 88.3 AFL Fantasy points to be one of the best performing players in that patch. In an 18-point loss to Fremantle in Round 5, Bates racked up 28 touches, six marks, four inside 50s, four rebounds and two tackles in her best game of the season.

Only turning 25 in October, the Queensland native who turned her back on cricket to pursue the sport she loved has plenty of years left in her. If she can replicate the form of 2020 and continue to build, she will be a part of something very special in the future for the young Lions.

Draft Central’s 2020 Top 50 AFLW Players: #18 – Jamie Stanton

WITH the AFL Women’s 2020 season officially come to a close now the awards are done and dusted, Draft Central looks back on our Top 50 Players of season 2020. This countdown purely looks at the 2020 season so does not look at past performances and will not include injured stars such Erin Phillips or Chelsea Randall.

In this edition, we look number 18 in our count, a Gold Coast Suns star who returned to the Sunshine State to play for her third club in the competition.

#18 Jamie Stanton

7 GAMES AVE: 17.1 disposals, 2.9 marks, 3.7 tackles, 3.0 inside 50s, 2.1 rebounds, 2 goals

The 24-year-old returned to Queensland over the off-season to play for a remarkable third inaugural club. Having been a part of Brisbane’s inaugural side in 2017, North Melbourne’s inaugural side last year and now the Suns’ inaugural side in 2020, it is fair to say there is no more experienced person to help a side from the ground up.

What separated Stanton’s 2020 season from her others was her ability to get forward of the ball and hit the scoreboard. Stanton booted a couple of goals and career-high inside 50s and kicks. Coming off a strong seven-game season with Darebin Falcons in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition where she played a similar role, the talented creator was able to continue that momentum into 2020.

While unlucky not to get a place in the final AFL Women’s All-Australian side, Stanton was one of just three Suns to make the 40-player squad. She was honoured with her first club best and fairest this year, taking out the Gold Coast Suns award. It indicated her importance to the coaching staff and the group, and what she is capable of doing both on and off the field.

Stanton’s best game this season came in Round 5 against Geelong where she collected 23 disposals, two marks, three inside 50s, two rebounds, laid five tackles and booted 1.2 in a 20-point loss. Coming into 2021, Stanton is approaching what would typically be the prime of her career so it will be exciting to see if she can take the next step in her career.