The Gold Coast Suns player Matt Conroy at pre-season training. Picture: Jerad Williams
The Gold Coast Suns player Matt Conroy at pre-season training. Picture: Jerad Williams

The Queenslanders in AFL Draft mix

Despite an ever-changing and highly competitive environment, up to six young Queenslanders could find themselves on AFL lists by the end of the national and rookie drafts.

Labrador's small defender/midfielder Connor Budarick - an under-18 All-Australian this year - and 199cm-tall Townsville ruckman Matt Conroy have already been pre-drafted by the Gold Coast as part of the concessions given to the Suns by the AFL last month.

The likes of Morningside's Keidean Coleman, Maroochydore's Noah Cumberland and Aspley's Will Martyn could get picked up in the later rounds of the draft on Thursday night, while Josh Gore (Surfers Paradise), Sampson Ryan (Western Magpies/Redland) and Bruce Reville (Western Magpies/Redland) could find a home through the rookie draft.

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Connor Budarick has joined the Gold Coast Suns after being a member of the club’s academy. Pic: AFL Photos
Connor Budarick has joined the Gold Coast Suns after being a member of the club’s academy. Pic: AFL Photos

 

The establishment of Next Generation Academies in Victorian clubs and a perception from interstate clubs that the Lions and Suns will automatically snap up the Maroon-grown kids can all be hurdles to Queenslanders making it on to lists.

But AFL Academies Manager for Queensland and NSW/ACT Mark Browning said players, clubs and administrators were "up for the challenge".

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"We think we'll come out the other end in really good shape," Browning said.

"We've got to adapt to how the system is changing and make sure our kids are as well prepared as possible.

"Between the two drafts, I think we should land at around the six or seven mark. That would be a great result, and then you have Connor Budarick and Matt Conroy who are already with the Suns.

"In the past, clubs in Victoria might take one of our kids because they saw more upside in them but with the NGAs, they get the same discount that the Lions get for their Academy kids, so they go with the players who have been in their academy.

"We'd love the Queensland kids to stay in Queensland. That's the priority but it's important to stay engaged with the other clubs as well."

 

Keidean Coleman in action at the U18 Championships last year. Pic: Getty Images
Keidean Coleman in action at the U18 Championships last year. Pic: Getty Images

 

Coleman, 19, was overlooked in last year's drafts but played 18 games for the Lions NEAFL side as a small forward, kicking 11 goals to attract some attention from a number of clubs.

Cumberland gave footy away when he was 16 years old but returned two years later and has played for the Allies under-18 side and the Lions NEAFL side as a forward.

Martyn has been a prolific ball-winner in the midfield at junior level and got a taste of the NEAFL with both Aspley and Brisbane last season.

A bolter could be the 19-year-old Ryan, who stands at 205cm tall.

Originally from the South Coast of NSW, the footballer and fast bowler moved to Toowoomba on a cricket scholarship.

He was offered a game of footy when he and his family headed to the local ground and was quickly snapped by the Western Magpies colts and played the last few games of the season.

"He's a real talent," Browning said of Ryan.

 

Matt Conroy goes through his paces at the Suns’ pre-season. Picture: Jerad Williams
Matt Conroy goes through his paces at the Suns’ pre-season. Picture: Jerad Williams

 

QUEENSLAND'S DRAFT CONTENDERS

Keidean Coleman (forward) - Morningside

Will Martyn (midfielder) - Aspley

Noah Cumberland (forward) - Maroochydore

Sampson Ryan (ruckman) - Western Magpies/Redland

Josh Gore (midfielder) - Surfers Paradise

Bruce Reville (midfielder) - Western Magpies/Redland

Pre-drafted by Gold Coast:

Connor Budarick (defender/midfielder) Labrador

Matt Conroy (ruckman) Townsville

A young Coleman in 2011.
A young Coleman in 2011.
News Corp Australia


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