Tom Fullarton of the Lions celebrates a goal during the round 13 AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and the St Kilda Saints at The Gabba on August 23, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)
Tom Fullarton of the Lions celebrates a goal during the round 13 AFL match between the Brisbane Lions and the St Kilda Saints at The Gabba on August 23, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

‘Something I’ll never forget’: Code hopper savours AFL debut

Sunshine Coast's Tom Fullarton is certainly no stranger to elite level sport but making his debut in the AFL and snaring a goal to boot is an experience he'll never forget.

The 21-year-old Caloundra talent debuted for the Brisbane Lions on Sunday afternoon during their two-point win over St Kilda at the Gabba.

His debut comes off the back of an interesting journey, having been on court in the NBL for the Brisbane Bullets just two years ago.

"The game was amazing and it was so fun to be out there and it's something that I'll never forget for the rest of my life," he told Lions media.

While just hitting the field was a special milestone, Fullarton managed to boot a goal in the hotly-contested match, with teammates swarming him in celebrations after.

AFL Round 13. Brisbane Lions vs St Kilda at the Gabba, Brisbane. 23/08/2020 … Paddy Ryder of the Saints and Tom Fullarton of the Lions. Pic: Michael Klein
AFL Round 13. Brisbane Lions vs St Kilda at the Gabba, Brisbane. 23/08/2020 … Paddy Ryder of the Saints and Tom Fullarton of the Lions. Pic: Michael Klein

"That was just a bonus and the coaches told me to go out there and play how I usually play and to get all the boys get around you after you've kicked your first goal is just something every AFL footballer will never forget, so it was really good," he said.

He had eight disposals, four kicks, one mark, 136m gained and two tackles.

He played 67 per cent of the game and even earned praise from coach Chris Fagan post-match.

"It (Fagan's praise) gives me a lot of confidence because I haven't played that much of the second ruck role and coming in I just wanted to compete and do my best and I thought I used my work rate well and competed hard when in there and able to help contribute to the team," he said.

The 200cm forward was part of the Lions' academy as a teenager but began to focus on basketball after being chosen to captain the Australian Under 17 world cup squad.

He caught the eye of Australian coach Andrej Lemanis who lured him to the Brisbane Bullets.

He played a total of eight games for the Bullets, one in the 2016-17 season and seven more in the 2017-18 season.

However, he returned to his first love of footy midway through the 2018 AFL season and agreed to join as a Category B rookie.

He was elevated from a Category B rookie to the senior list last week to replace Marcus Adams who has been placed on the long-term injury list.

Fellow Coaster Jack Payne also debuted for the Lions earlier this month.

They're not the only local products hitting the field for Lions, with Eric Hipwood a strong regular for the squad.



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