Tag: suns academy

2021 AFLW U17 Championships preview: Queensland

AN underage Q-Clash between Brisbane and Gold Coast Academies will kick off on Sunday afternoon in the first of two AFLW Under 17 Championship clashes between the sides. The second game will take place on Wednesday with a short turnaround, but both sides have plenty of impressive players to keep an eye on. Both the Lions Academy and Suns Academy will be coached by recently retired AFLW star Lauren Arnell in more of an exhibition clash than anything else.

From a 2022 AFLW Draft perspective, Alana Gee and Charlotte Mullins loom as the two prospects to really keep an eye on in the clash. Hailing from Mackay, Gee is a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy, standing at 169cm. A balanced midfielder who can use either foot, her work rate in very impressive. Whilst she is a natural inside midfielder coming through the program, she showed an adaptability to roll into an outside position and even as a running defender in 2020.

Mullins is a versatile talent out of the Brisbane Lions Academy who has been plying her trade for Aspley in the QAFL Women’s competition. Mullins is a lively player around the ball who applies great defensive pressure, and was a clever forward when these sides played last year. As an Under 16s talent, she held her own then, and continued to improve through her bottom-age year, with the 165cm midfielder expected to spend more time in there this year, and lead the Lions group.

Gold Coast Suns Academy’s Fleur Davies representing Queensland a the AFLW U19 Championships.

Fleur Davies, a taller and younger sister of recently drafted Suns Academy talent Giselle, is another one to keep an eye on. Like her older sister, Davies is capable of playing up either end, but played forward for the Lions last year, and pinch-hit in the ruck. She had experience at the AFLW Under 19 Championships, and at 185cm is a genuine key position player who will outmark most opponents when reading it well. Still a raw talent, Davies has plenty of upside and will be one to watch.

Not playing in this clash, bottom-age talent Ella Smith is another name to remember for Queensland prospects, and is another Brisbane Lions Academy talent. From a Brisbane Academy perspective, 171cm Aspley youngster Kadie Fletcher who had an outstanding debut season at senior level year year, and Wilston Grange talent Brooke Sheridan are others who were able to make the Queensland Under 19s squad in their bottom-age years. The Suns also had another bottom-age representative with Gee and Davies in this year’s Under 19s program, with Imogen Evans impressing onball for Queensland, picking up 12 disposals, five tackles, three clearances and booting a goal in the loss to Vic Country.

While the Queensland Academy squads are made up of 2022 and 2023 AFLW Draft talents, there are three 2006-born players named for the Suns. Tara Harrington, Nyalli Milne and Havana Harris are ones to keep in mind for a few years away, with the latter two playing at Burleigh, and Harrington out at Broadbeach. Whilst the result in the match does not really matter, the lack of Under 19s carnival for the Queensland girls will mean these games will provide them with some more experience at a higher level.

>> Watch Brisbane Lions vs. Gold Coast Suns AFLW Under 17s Academy clash

Team: Brisbane Lions
Coach: Lauren Arnell
Team Manager: Jason Torney

2 Holly O’Flaherty 20/06/2004 162 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane North Wilston Grange
3 Ava Seton 19/04/2004 165 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane North Wests Juniors / Uni of Queensland
4 Daisy Carter 7/06/2004 166 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane North Sandgate / Wilston Grange
5 Lauren Fraser 13/01/2005 164 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane South-Darling Downs Toowoomba
6 Courtney Page 23/02/2004 165 Brisbane Lions Academy / Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Kawana
7 Neve Underwood 17/03/2004 166 Brisbane Lions Academy / Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Kawana / Maroochydore
8 Harriet Knijff 21/11/2005 167 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane South-Darling Downs Redland-Victoria Point
9 Ebony Milne 3/08/2005 167 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane South-Darling Downs Redland-Victoria Point
10 Jacinta Baldwick 14/11/2005 167 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane South-Darling Downs Jindalee / Wests Juniors
11 Charlotte Mullins 28/10/2004 167 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane North Wilston Grange / Aspley
12 Lara Paget 23/02/2005 168 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane South-Darling Downs Jindalee / Toowoomba
13 Sarah Browne 28/10/2004 169 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane South-Darling Downs Toowoomba / Jindalee
14 Georgia Carmody 13/04/2004 169 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane South-Darling Downs Mt Gravatt
15 Sasha Rival-Quinn 29/12/2004 169 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane South-Darling Downs Jindalee / University of Queensland
17 Leah Siertsema 13/07/2004 169 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane South-Darling Downs Mt Gravatt
18 Christine Watson 11/10/2004 178 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane South-Darling Downs Concordia College / Toowoomba
20 Demi Norton 6/04/2004 170 Brisbane Lions Academy / Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Kawana / Maroochydore
21 Madalyn Hennessy 9/03/2004 170 Brisbane Lions Academy / Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Maroochydore
22 Brooke Sheridan 8/09/2004 170 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane North Boyne Island-Tannum Sands / Wilston Grange
23 Kadie Fletcher 18/08/2004 171 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane North Wilston Grange / Aspley
24 Lily Willoughby 17/04/2005 171 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane North Sandgate
25 Charlotte Millen 2/12/2004 172 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane South-Darling Downs Mt Gravatt
26 Courtney Browne 28/10/2004 173 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane South-Darling Downs Toowoomba / Jindalee
27 Indiana Gosbell-Smith 30/09/2004 173 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane North Sandgate
28 Kiara Hillier 3/11/2004 173 Brisbane Lions Academy / Sunshine Coast-Wide Bay Kawana
Evie Long 22/08/2005 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane North Sandgate
Zimra Hussein 1/01/2005 Brisbane Lions Academy / Brisbane North University (Toowoomba) / Wilston Grange

Team: Gold Coast Suns
Coach: Lauren Arnell
Team Manager: Jason Torney

1 Jasmine Single 17/12/2005 160 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Burleigh
2 Caitlin Miller 21/07/2004 166 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Southport
3 Monet Ferris 19/02/2004 173 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Yeronga AFC
4 Darcie Davies 14/06/2005 184 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Southport
5 Tara Harrington 24/03/2006 166 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Broadbeach
6 Isabella Iverach 7/07/2004 169 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Broadbeach
7 Josie McCabe 18/04/2005 173 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Burleigh
10 Jasmyn Smith 10/05/2004 158 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Broadbeach
11 Keeley Parker 23/07/2005 163 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Tweed Coolangatta
12 Piper Phelan 11/11/2004 172 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Bond University
13 Grace Ella 9/11/2005 164 QLD/GC SUNS/Northern Rivers Tweed Coast Tigers
14 Sienna McMullen 15/07/2005 164 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Burleigh
15 Makayla Sekac 5/04/2005 169 QLD/GC SUNS/Northern Rivers Tweed Coolangatta
16 Cloe Coombes 1/12/2004 166 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Broadbeach
17 Abbey Bevan 19/06/2004 178 QLD/GC SUNS/Northern Rivers Broadbeach
19 Alana Gee 20/04/2004 169 QLD/GC SUNS/Mackay North Mackay Saints
20 Jessica Frape 27/05/2004 171 QLD/GC SUNS/Cairns Cairns Saints
21 Imogen Evans 5/02/2004 171 QLD/GC SUNS/Northern Rivers Bond University
22 Kayla Giles 28/09/2005 170 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Palm Beach Currumbin
23 Maggie O’Connell 30/01/2004 171 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Southport
24 Avalon Pearce 17/10/2005 182 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Southport
25 Indiana Brough 15/07/2004 173 QLD/GC SUNS/Mackay Bakers Creek Tigers
26 Nyalli Milne 26/05/2006 169 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Burleigh
27 Kialla-Skye Bailey 10/03/2005 165 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Southport
28 J’noemi Anderson 17/12/2004 170 NT/Thunder St Marys
29 Fleur Davies 6/05/2004 185 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Southport
30 Ella Calleja 20/11/2004 171 QLD/GC SUNS/Capricornia Yeppoon Swans
31 Havana Harris 1/07/2006 181 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Burleigh
32 Kaylee Kimber 13/09/2003 174 QLD/GC SUNS/Mackay Moranbah Bulldogs
33 Annabel Kievit 22/09/2005 175 NT/Thunder Warratahs
34 Millie Heathcote 4/01/2004 181 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Palm Beach Currumbin
35 Nikita Cripps 4/07/2005 175 QLD/GC SUNS/Gold Coast Mt Gravatt

QAFL finals wrap: Cats’ Colts join Seniors in the big dance

GRAND finalists have been set across the QAFL Senior, Reserves, and Colts grades with Gold Coast clubs Labrador and Broadbeach represented across two of the three levels. The Cats will face Maroochydore in the senior decider after the Roos jumped minor premier Labrador in an epic comeback win, but the Tigers’ Reserves and Colts downed Palm Beach Currumbin (PBC) and Morningside respectively to set up final week appearances.

Maroochydore’s epic last gasp victory in the top flight sets up an intriguing grand final meeting with Broadbeach, who will be out to rectify last year’s loss to Morningside after earning the week off. The Roos got the jump with a five goals to one opening term but fell 18 points behind at half-time, and were 22 points down with less that 10 minutes left to play. As Labrador began to rest its guns, a five-goal swing ensued and the Roos saluted to the tune of 10 points, 13.10 (88) to 11.12 (78).

Sam McLaughlin was outstanding for the victors and slotted a key late major, as the likes of Michael Steven (four goals), Lochie Laing and Mitchell Scholard (both three) also found the big sticks throughout. Former-AFL Irishman Pearce Hanley booted five goals for Labrador, while Alex McKay played a key role through the engine room. From an Academy sense, products Mackenzie Riddle (Gold Coast) and Ben Thomas (Brisbane) featured for either side.

While the seniors were done-in, Labrador’s second side defeated PBC by 22 points to secure a spot in the grand final alongside Morningside. Minor premiers across both grades, the Tigers were able to convert on this occasion having set up an early buffer and lead at every break.

Northern Territory native and Gold Coast eligible tall Ned Stevens snared a goal in just his fourth game for the season, having battled a niggling groin injury. Fellow tall Thomas Hofert also got a run for the victors, along with 2002-born SUNS Academy products Bailey Reeves, James Smith, Shaye Walsh, and Riley Johnson. Top-ager Luke Coombes notched his 12th reserves game, while Brinn Little turned out for PBC.

In the Colts grade, Labrador will take on Broadbeach after the Cats downed Morningside on Saturday, restricting the second-ranked Panthers to just two goals from 11 scoring shots in a dominant 46-point victory. State Under 17 squad members Jared Eckersley and Kye Reynoldson were among the Cats’ best, while Cooper Parkes snared four majors in the win. For Morningside, representative selectees Harry Taylor, Thalayn Ryschka, and Bryce Longland all featured in their side’s final game for the season.

Image Credit: Brooke Sleep Photography via AFLQ

Ones to Watch: 2022 Northern Academy prospects

WITH the likes of Harris Andrews (Brisbane Lions), Jack Bowes (Gold Coast SUNS), Tom Green (GWS GIANTS), and Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans) among the many great Northern Academy products, there are always prospects of note coming out of each region in an AFL Draft sense. While there may not be as many featuring at the top end of this year’s crop, there are still a bunch to consider and plenty more for the future. In a special Ones to Watch edition, we take a look at some of the Northern Academy talents to keep an eye on ahead of next year’s intake.


Jaspa Fletcher

Fletcher has somewhat a double-link to the club, being not only an academy member but also a father-son prospect, with his father Adrian playing 107 games for the Brisbane Bears/Lions. Fletcher looms as one of the top Northern State talents heading into 2022, with his speed and class by foot two standout attributes in his game. Fletcher is also extremely versatile, able to fill a role up either end, on a wing or right in the thick of things in the engine room, giving whichever team he plays for a lot of options.

Riley McMillan

A creative player in the forward half of the ground, McMillan has a lot of tricks to win the ball and get himself out of congestion, combining his speed and agility to get clear from opponents and then use the ball well by foot to get it to his teammates. When McMillan has run through the midfield, his positioning around stoppages has been consistently good, with his clean hands in close a crafty weapon.

Bailey Tome

A hard at it inside ball winner, Tome is the type of hard-working midfielder that makes life easier for the outside runners. With impressive movement that allows him to keep up with most opponents and be able to tackle as soon as they grab the ball, it is not uncommon to see Tome lay three or four tackles in a short period, as is his relentless approach.


Ravi Schofield is an exciting forward that can pinch hit in the midfield and use his athleticism as a weapon. Benjamin McCarthy plays as a reliable defender who can also fill a role forward. Liam McNeil and Thalayn Ryschka are two impressive ruck options for 2022. Will Ashcroft, whilst not an academy prospect, is tied to the club via father-son rules as the son of Marcus. He looks an early top five contender and is currently plying his trade for the Sandringham Dragons at NAB League level.


Jared Eckersley

A high-leaping running defender, Eckersley is another Broadbeach product that was able to impact at Under 19’s level in 2021. He was consistently a roadblock to opposition attacks, contesting well with his spoiling and rebounding effectively with his long kick to get his side back in its front half from defensive 50. 

Cody Harrington

Utilising his speed and smarts, Harrington is a constant danger in the forward half of the ground and can hurt the opposition in plenty of ways. Coming from talent factory Broadbeach, whilst Harrington is more than capable of playing a traditional small forward role, he’s an aerial and one-on-one marking threat, making him a difficult match up for one defender to deal with. To go with all this, Harrington is also a solid tackler, taking opponents down more often than not when he gets a hold. Harrington is a goal sneak as well, able to kick them from anywhere or set them up by hitting teammates with his deadly kick. 

Campbell Lake

Popping up all over the ground regardless of his starting position, Lake is a hard working midfielder with genuine will to run both ways and win the football. A Labrador product, Lake combines this work-rate with quality disposal, particularly when heading inside 50, often looking to hit up leading forwards or putting it where he wants them to go.


Levi Fyffe and Joshua Young are high leaping and exciting forwardline targets who have formed a dangerous duo when playing together, with the two often working up the ground as well to be link up options. Kye Reynoldson is a winger who can also play half-back that turns opponents inside out with his evasiveness, and possesses a penetrating kick. Taine Dawson rotates between the forward line and the ruck, with some impressive speed off the mark and a high leap that makes him a danger around the ground.


Angus Curry

Currently boarding as Wesley College, Curry has had a few more chances to impress than a lot of other Northern Academy prospects for 2022; playing for Wesley, Oakleigh Chargers in the Under 17 series and the GWS Academy at different times. Curry doesn’t let his shorter stature hold him back, showing a lot of tenacity with his approach to contests and tackles, but also balancing that with quality ball use when he wins it.

Luke Lawrence

Looming as a dangerous midfielder that can rest forward in the future, Lawrence has made the most of his limited appearances in 2021 – including a three-goal haul in his only NAB League appearance. Mostly playing through the midfield through the academy series, Lawrence’s ability to get away from, or around, opponents with his speed and agility is eye catching, while his ability to find the right handball option in close most impressive.

Dayne Posthuma

Posthuma is a no fuss tall defender, remaining consistently accountable for his own opponent whilst drifting across and intercepting in front of contests to aid his teammates. The 197cm Queanbeyan product has a good leap and read of the ball, as well as a deceiving amount of speed, where he usually follows up with clean ball use.


Nick Madden is a strong bodied ruck who is already 203cm and is strong one-on-one, providing headaches for opposition as he positions down the line to take intercept marks. Harry Rowston is an in and under midfielder that can be damaging with his disposal, able to get through traffic and provide second efforts. Nathan Battaglia provides an athletic option up forward capable of getting high on opposition shoulders with plenty more to work with going into the future.


Tye Gander

An athletic medium forward option, Gander is electric around the contest and even more exciting when leading up at the footy, getting on an opponents’ shoulders without putting a hand on them and sticking high marks or selling candy to open up more space, Gander is capable of it all. His leap is such a strength it is not uncommon to see him rotate through the ruck and win some contests, then follow up his own tap at ground level.

Billy King

A physically imposing but also athletic ruck and forward option, King wins most ruck contests he attends; able to out-body opponents well, but just as capable of leaping over them even when giving up a little bit of height. What makes King so dangerous is his strong marking when resting forward and good leading patterns, making him a danger when he gets on the move inside 50.

Joshua Nicholls

With a nice bit of speed to help him, Nicholls can fill in role up either end, on a wing or even through the midfield, applying the same level of intent to win the ball and use it. A jack of all trades type, Nicholls is good across the board with his skills and footy IQ, making him particularly dangerous when given the freedom to roam around the ground and impact where he sees fit.


William Sabolch is a solid defender that can run through the midfield, with his ball use particularly impressive out of the back half and resulting in a lot of attacking plays. Bililign Robertson plays mostly on a wing but is more than comfortable in congestion where he can find a backwards handball option, whilst Christian Webster is a taller option that can play up either end with a good mark. Indhi Kirk, the oldest child of Brett, is also in the academy and possesses some impressive tricks as a small forward, whilst fellow club legend Michael O’Loughlin has had his nephew TJ Speedy Coe recently switch across from rugby, bringing a lot of speed and excitement to the forwardline.

QAFL Player Focus: Bodhi Uwland (Broadbeach)

EXCITING Gold Coast SUNS Academy talent Bodhi Uwland returned to the QAFL Seniors grade on Saturday, lining up in defence as Broadbeach downed Labrador to book a grand final spot. A high flier who chimes in with eye-catching intercepts, Uwland has represented the SUNS Academy at NAB League level and got six VFL games under his belt in 2021. His form saw him named as Gold Coast’s male academy player of the year, having previously earned Allies and National Draft Combine selection.

We put Uwland’s semi-final performance under the Player Focus microscope this week, breaking down his game quarter-by-quarter.

>> Up the Grades: Prospects playing senior footy


Bodhi Uwland
Broadbeach/SUNS Academy/Allies

DOB: 25/07/2003 (18)
Height/Weight: 185cm/84kg
Position: Medium Defender/Midfielder

Strengths: Vertical leap, intercept marking, kick penetration

2021 Averages:

VFL: 6 games | 12.5 disposals | 4.0 marks | 1.8 tackles | 0.7 inside 50s | 1.7 rebound 50s | 0.1 goals (1 total)
NAB League: 2 games | 24.0 disposals | 4.5 marks | 5.5 tackles | 5.0 inside 50s | 3.5 rebound 50s | 1.5 goals (3)

2021 QAFL Seniors, Semi-Final 1 | Labrador 9.13 (67) def. by Broadbeach 9.17 (71)

#40 Bodhi Uwland (Broadbeach)



Looking to make good on his call-up from the Reserves, Uwland started brightly with his most productive quarter in terms of pure numbers. He was stationed in a familiar defensive post but roamed high up the field, tracking his opponent and taking up aggressive positions behind the ball.

A capable intercept marker, Uwland was sometimes caught out when looking to intercept, running under the ball as the seniors moved it a touch further and more efficiently to start off. It meant he had to rove front and centre at times, rather than flying for marks.

One of his forays up the ground ended in a score, as Uwland snuck free in the corridor to mark uncontested, before moving straight on and unleashing a shot with bounced over the back for a behind. He looked to use that booming kick up the other end too, launching a kick-in to half-back with good penetration.

Uwland was overall quite effective with his ball use, notching three kicks and two handballs including one breach of either arc to showcase his ability to impact on the attack.


The second quarter was easily Uwland’s most quiet, as essentially all of his work was done without the footy. He again tracked the play all the way up to his attacking half and helped set a high line for Broadbeach’s defensive press, but could have been a touch more urgent on the way back.

Uwland did make some better follow-up efforts as the term wore on though, laying tackles which interrupted a couple of quick Labrador breaks in transition. In a ball winning sense, that reaction-based movement meant he saw less of it, despite working into space on the outer.


Uwland came back relatively well in term three after a quiet second quarter, picking up four kicks, two marks, and a couple of rebound 50s as his booming kick came to the fore from defence.

He positioned a little deeper and was made to do some defensive chasing, including one effort to pressure Pearce Hanley inside defensive 50 which showed he was warming well to the finals intensity.

His two marks were taken uncontested, but Uwland looked to move the ball on quickly with one, kicking laterally to the wing, while the other was sent long down the line to a contest. Uwland got similar meterage with another kick-in and overall produced a handy period of play as Broadbeach fought off Labrador’s run of play.


Uwland again did not see as much of the ball as Broadbeach got back on top for the win, but he popped up with an absolutely clutch tackle late in the piece. He also finally got a good run at the aerial ball, launching in packs to impact a couple of opposition set shots which fell short.

His highlight for the day was the aforementioned tackle, which may well have been a goalsaving one at half-back as Labrador surged through the corridor and looked to be headed deep inside 50. With his couple of disposals, Uwland was again effective and played the percentages, rounding out a promising performance as the Cats held on for a spot in the decider.

Academy watch: Lions return for QAFL finals impact

THE 2021 QAFL finals series kicked off this past weekend, with a pair of elimination finals seeing the two lower-ranked sides pull off memorable upsets. Those teams in question were Morningside and Maroochydore, who will now face off in Saturday’s second semi-final after their narrow victories.

As this year’s reigning premier, the Panthers have plenty of work to do to defend their crown from fifth, but started off their finals campaign strongly. They raced out to an early lead and were over 40 points in front at stages, before holding off a fast-finishing Surfers Paradise to come away six-point victors on the road.

Among Morningside’s squad was a couple of very handy inclusions, namely Brisbane Lions Academy products Saxon Crozier and Toby Triffett. Both made just their second QAFL appearances for the season after runs in the VFL, while Max Nelson lined up down back alongside bottom-ager Ben McCarthy.

Max Pescud made up the Gold Coast Academy representation for Surfers, rotating forward from the wing to be one of the better Demons afield. We take a look at how all five of the aforementioned northern academy prospects fared on the elimination final stage, in a special QAFL edition of Academy Watch.


Surfers Paradise 9.11 (65) def. by Morningside 10.11 (71)

#5 Toby Triffett (Morningside)

One who appears to have gained a wealth of confidence and knowledge from his time in the VFL, Triffett was a dominant contested ball winner on Saturday. The blue-booted midfielder proved strong with his ability to fire away handballs under tackling pressure and even break a few, looking quite effective by hand. He did tend to hack his clearing kicks a touch, but had no trouble finding the ball with his wickedly clean hands and solid frame. In a tone-setting act, his lone major for the game came during Morningside’s opening term flurry, as he burrowed in to rip the ball free from a forward 50 pack and snapped it home. A top performance.

#27 Saxon Crozier (Morningside)

Returning to QAFL action alongside Triffett after his own VFL tenure, Crozier took up a very familiar role on the wing for Morningside. He proved a little scratchy with his very first touch, but fixed up quickly to level with the pace of the game. Crozier had some unlucky moments in the first half with free kicks against, but clunked a nice intercept mark and looked promising when released into space via hand. That trend continued as he worked into either arc and proved productive by foot, spearing the ball to teammates. He also hit the scoreboard in term three, tracking the ball well off a stoppage with gut-run inside 50 to get the spill and convert into an open goalsquare.

#44 Ben McCarthy (Morningside)

The sole bottom-ager in this lot, McCarthy has played 13 games for the Panthers’ senior side this year and looks a settled member of the lineup. He played in defence on Saturday but was sighted trailing his opponents all the way up to half-forward, ensuring they wouldn’t get an easy kick rolling up the ground. A touch light-on, McCarthy often knew to stay down as contests formed down the line, helping to mop up the spills and kick forward. He had a couple of nice moments in the third quarter, laying a holding the ball tackle and smothering his opponent under a minute later after he had turned the ball over.

#52 Max Nelson (Morningside)

Nelson was one of the Panthers’ most important players in their elimination final triumph, playing a key role down back with plenty of work to do. He was tasked with the kick-in duties and often roosted the ball well beyond defensive 50, while also providing a bit of dash on the rebound with a good amount of confidence to take on opponents. He looked to crash packs from behind if the ball came back his way and managed to chime in with some important intercept possessions, making for a really solid game across the defensive arc.

#61 Max Pescud (Surfers Paradise)

Having taken up a starting spot on the wing, Pescud made arguably his most profound impact up forward. He showed a good turn of speed and quick skills when stationed further afield, before bringing his overhead marking ability to the fore inside 50. Pescud produced a few key plays during term two upon his switch; cutting across a pack to mark inside 50, manufacturing a goal assist with his twists and turns, and splitting a 1v2 situation which lead to another major. While he looked to be unselfish when in possession near goal, Pescud nabbed a major of his own in term four to help sustain Surfers’ fightback. His tackling intent and pressure was also terrific throughout the game.

Featured Image: Saxon Crozier in action for Morningside | Credit: RF Photography

Fahey dashes towards footballing dream

ARGUABLY this year’s leading Northern Academy prospect has turned out for two of them across his footballing journey, but returned home in 2021 as he looks to materialise his AFL dream. That prospect is Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy standout Josh Fahey, and Canberra is home to him.

His academy eligibility was up in the air last year as he moved with family up to Queensland, linking up with the Gold Coast Suns’ program and looking likely to enter the open draft this year. But schooling and the allure of a home within the Giants family brought Fahey back to his roots, also confirming his status as a GWS-eligible talent.

The dashing defender put his name in lights in April, turning out for the AFL Academy in a 130-point thrashing at the hands of Geelong VFL. While the result was not ideal, Fahey took out the MCC President’s Medal as best afield for the Under 19 team, collecting 23 disposals as part of a besieged back six.

During preseason, Fahey highlighted the showcase game as a landmark he was most looking forward to reaching this season. With the opportunity to better his own game by playing alongside the best footballers this country has to offer, Fahey shone.

“Being part of the AFL Academy, playing with the best players in the country I think I can learn a lot off them,” Fahey said. “I’m looking forward to playing with most of the Melbourne boys really. Obviously they’ve got that stereotype down there of how good they actually are… just playing with them I think is going to take my game to another level.”

While injury slightly disrupted his campaign early on, Fahey has also turned out for GWS at state league level this season. Across three games, his best outing came against reigning VFL premier Richmond in Round 5, where he notched 24 disposals. He continued his taste of senior football with local side, Queanbeyan in the AFL Canberra competition, making for quite a diverse schedule.

Hailing from the Canberra region and with family ties in other sporting codes, it has not always been footy for Fahey. The 17-year-old marks his Under 15 SSA All Australian selection as a turning point in his chosen career path, which lead him to state Under 16 selection and the aforementioned AFL Academy honours.

“I’ve only played (Australian football) for five years now,” Fahey said. “I grew up with League and Union my whole life because dad coached Rugby Union at a pretty high level… so I’ve been here for five years and don’t regret a thing coming over.”

“Under 15s was the main thing when I made the All Australian team and was only playing at club level every now and then. That’s probably the main thing that got me over the line really.”

Fahey says tackling is the main facet of either rugby code he has managed to transfer to football. Though it is a strength, the 186cm prospect’s speed and penetrative kick are arguably his most eye-catching traits.

“I wouldn’t say (tackling) is my greatest strength but it’s maybe above average compared to others,” he said. “At the end of the day my game comes down to my kicking and I judge how impactful I was on the field that day through my kicking and targets.”

“The main thing I’m working on is taking my aerial game to another level. Being 186cm I think I can really use that to my advantage this year.”

While current and future opportunities are slightly blurred as most of the nation endures lockdown protocols, Fahey’s end goal is clear – get drafted. The run-and-gun defender has shown top 25 potential at his peak, though the Giants will likely hope to keep that under wraps.

Image Credit: AFL Photos

2021 AFLW Draft club review: Gold Coast

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with Gold Coast.

#1 Charlie Rowbottom (Midfielder/Forward)
22/01/2003 | 178cm
Oakleigh Chargers / Vic Metro

Gold Coast said it would cast a line for Victorian talent, and fittingly ended up reeling in one of the top two prospects in the draft pool with pick one. Rowbottom, who is said to love the sun and surf, nominated Queensland and was an easy choice for the Suns to open the draft. The Oakleigh Chargers premiership skipper is a rare talent, a very tall midfielder at 178cm who uses her bull-like power around the ball and can roll forward to take contested marks. Her ability to burst away from congestion, much like her brother James, is eye-catching and makes her a damaging proposition in midfield. She is still working on refining her kicking and conversion, but can boom the ball forward in a flash when everything comes together. She may well start up forward before being eased into the engine room at AFLW level, but ultimately looks ready to go.


>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> NAB League Girls season review: Oakleigh Chargers

#6 Teagan Levi (Midfielder)
14/08/2003 | 169cm
Bond University / Queensland

Another terrific addition to the midfield mix is Levi, the leading Suns Academy graduate in 2021. Like her sister Maddi, she hails from a Rugby 7’s background and will look to juggle both codes going forward, again like her elder sibling. The 17-year-old is an inside midfielder with all the athletic traits you would expect, including strength over the ball and power to pull away from would-be tacklers. She has some more refined traits too, with clean hands and terrific skills making her a contested ball winner with handy points of difference. Like Rowbottom, she looks ready to go and is a class act with one of the more well-rounded skillsets of any draftee around the nation.


>> 2021 Nationwide Power Rankings
>> Top Performers: AFLWU19s – Queensland vs. Vic Country

Teagan Levi gets a kick away for Queensland

#8 Ashanti Bush (Forward)
18/08/2002 | 162cm
Hawthorn VFLW / Darwin Buffettes / Allies

After missing out last year, Bush became the sole Northern Territory talent drafted in 2021 after a promising year of football at multiple levels. She was a noted goalkicker in the NTFL with Darwin, and went on to link up with Hawthorn in the VFLW after representing the Allies at this year’s Under 19 National Championships. Bush is the kind of forward who plays above her 162cm height and doesn’t need too many opportunities to make an impact, with her smarts and evasion inside 50 making her difficult to beat one-on-one. In a Suns side which went winless with the lowest percentage last season, she promises to add some flair and threat in front of goal.


>> Positional Analysis: Medium/Tall Forwards
>> 2021 Top/mature-agers to watch

Ashanti Bush (right) in Allies colours

#30 Giselle Davies (Tall Defender)
17/03/2002 | 180cm
Bond University / Queensland

Another Suns Academy graduate, Davies adds some defensive solidity to the mix and already has multiple links to her new senior side. Davies has been mentored by Suns star Jamie Stanton, who teaches at her high school, and is good friends with 2020 draftee Annise Bradfield, who introduced her to Australian football. The 180cm prospect has plenty of development left, with her defensive acumen and ability to nullify direct opponents already sound, but contested marking and taking on the game areas she is looking to steadily improve.


>> Rising Sun Davies learns from the best


With a clear standout from their own academy always in line to land at Gold Coast, the Suns were able to mix it up with their other two top 10 selections and pick from other regions. Rowbottom was a great get as she nominated Queensland and became available with pick one, while Bush is a raw talent with plenty of upside who can add some much-needed scoring power. Levi was the standout local choice and has plenty about her as a midfielder, while fellow academy graduate Davies is another developmental kind of selection who is progressing well and bolsters the Suns’ key defensive stocks. The Suns’ regeneration will be massively buoyed by their first two picks in particular, they’re both stars in the making.

Image Credit: Michael Willson/AFL Photos

Evolving Evans interested in improving “everything”

2020 GREATER Western Sydney draftee Tarni Evans is a name you may already be familiar with. In 2021, her younger cousin Sally Evans is looking to join her in the top flight come AFLW Draft day, on Tuesday. The 17-year-old Queenslander represented her state this year, while also developing through the Gold Coast SUNS Academy and at QAFLW level.

Akin to her established cousin, Evans has good speed on the outer and moves forward well. With the similarities evident, she says Tarni has been a key source of inspiration along her own journey.

“Watching her journey from where she started to where she is now (has been inspiring),” Evans said. “She played nearly every position, they’ve thrown her around and she’s adapted so well. She had a really great season.

“I would say my speed is a strength as I predominantly play along the wing, and my ground level movement – especially crumbing in the forwardline.”

Evans started out in Australian football five years ago, playing all of her juniors at Coolangatta Tweed before eventually cracking the senior grade. After getting a couple of QAFLW games under her belt for the Blues, she transferred over to Bond University and added a few more outings before season’s end.

While Queensland was beaten handily to the tune of 54 points against Vic Country in its sole Under 19 championships match, Evans could not fault the team for effort. She was also glowing in her review of the SUNS Academy.

“Obviously we didn’t love the outcome that we received, but I think we tried our hardest,” Evans said. “We probably could’ve gone in respecting them a little bit more knowing how good of a team they were, but I think we did our best.

“I love the academy. Our head coach Sam (Iles) is awesome, he’s always wanting the best for us and always trying to give us as many opportunities as possible. All the girls are fantastic.”

Being drafted “for the SUNS or any team” is Evans’ end goal for this year, but she also has her sights on simply improving “everything” in her game. Learning game structure and sharpening her marking skills are top of the list, and would add to the promising arsenal of weapons she hopes to wield at the top level.

Rising Sun Davies learns from the best

NOT everyone gets the chance to talk footy with AFLW stars in between classes at school, but Gold Coast Academy prospect Giselle Davies is taking plenty of learnings out of that exact opportunity. The 18-year-old tall defender attends Southport State High School, where current Suns midfielder Jamie Stanton teaches.

While the two are quite different players, Davies says the mentorship of Stanton has been a valuable peek behind the curtain of what it takes to cut the AFLW grade.

“(Stanton) has been a teacher at my school for a few years now so I’ve definitely looked up to her,” Davies said. “I’m always talking to her about her games on the weekend and how she went. Obviously I watch a lot of her play and even though we don’t really play similar positions it’s good to have a mentor who you can talk to.”

The link is one of Davies’ many ties to the senior-listed Suns, having also come up through Gold Coast’s academy and initially being introduced to Australian football by a certain 2020 draftee.

“I started playing footy a few years ago, my best friend Annise Bradfield got me down to play,” she said. “I was playing heaps of touch football (and) netball, I went to a footy session and it was just a perfect mix of both of those sports. I loved it from there.

“I have loved every single part of playing with the Gold Coast Under 19s Academy. We did heaps of work in the off-season after last year – pre-season training in the heat, gym, running, just loving it.

“I’m really grateful that we have the academy that looks after us so well. There’s all this new talent coming through the pathway, it’s just amazing that they really give you a perspective on what you could have and what you’re working towards.”

Through her work in the pathway and form for Bond University in this year’s QAFLW season, Davies was also selected for Queensland representative honours in 2021. While the Maroons’ Under 19 squad went down by 54 points against Vic Country in their sole carnival outing, Davies took plenty away from what was “the highest level of footy [she’s] ever played.”

“It was probably the best weekend I’ve ever had,” she said. “Just playing with a bunch of girls that you don’t usually play with, people who want to be there and played as hard as they could. Despite the loss, it was such a good game of footy to be a part of and see the different ways that Vic play their game and how I can improve mine. It was really good.”

At 180cm, Davies is aware of her strengths and areas for improvement, with her decision making by foot already sound and her ability to utilise said size on the incline. Clunking more contested marks and having the confidence to take the game on are among the next steps to take, by her own assessment.

She is one of many Queensland talent hoping to end up on an AFLW list in just a few days, with the 2021 draft set to go down on Tuesday, July 27.

Queensland Academy Watch | Lions learn, Suns caught in COVID chaos

DESPITE losing in Thursday night footy in the seniors to the Brisbane Lions, Geelong’s reserves have given their club some consolation with a cracking 118-point away win on Friday.

As was to be expected in a contest between mostly AFL listed players, the early going was willing and scores remained close into the second quarter, but Geelong’s exceptional midfield began to exert its dominance and booted the final four goals to go into half time with a lead that would extend through the second half, as they went on an 18-goal rampage until the Lions fought to retain some respectability in junk time.

For the Lions, Academy player Tom Triffett topped the tackle count with 11 and added a goal to his 14 disposals, while James Langbourne again got forward to hit the scoreboard and mid-season draftee Kalin Lane backed up his debut with a goal and 11 hit-outs.

Brisbane again fielded 10 top-up players, with the late decision to cancel the Allies camp due to Sydney’s worsening COVID crisis, so Saxon Crozier, Tahj Abberley, Jack Briskey and Triffett were drafted into the VFL side at the last minute, against a Geelong outfit with mature-bodied ex-AFL players included, and the result showed the imbalance.

2019 second round draft pick Francis Evans kicked 4.2 for the victors, while 2020 second round tall Shannon Neale kicked 4.1, but it was Charlie Constable with 44 disposals who starred with the big-bodied inside midfielder putting in a great audition in a contract year.

Spare a thought for Gold Coast Suns Academy players in the Allies squad, who after their camp was cancelled were selected to play VFL, only for the Southport vs. Suns fixture to be postponed as well. Will Bella, Max Pescud, Bailey Reeves, Jack Johnston and Bodhi Uwland subsequently missed out on playing football altogether.

However, Finn Brown turned in a best on ground performance for Broadbeach for the third game straight as he and Austin Harris ran through the midfield in the Cats’ loss to Sherwood. Meanwhile, Jed Foggo and Brinn Little turned out for Palm Beach Currumbin in their loss to Maroochydore, as top-age ruck Thomas Hofert joined junior club Labrador for their thumping win over Noosa.

Gold Coast prospect Jye Lockett played his fourth senior game for North Ballarat, bagging a couple of goals to bring his tally to a total of seven for the season in the Ballarat League.

Image Credit: RF Photography