Gympie juniors go 1-on-1 with visiting Brisbane Lions stars
AUSSIE RULES: Gympie's next generation of Aussie Rules hopefuls greeted ten Brisbane Lions stars with rapturous excitement as the club arrived in the Gold City for day one of their AFL community camp yesterday.
Lions trio Daniel Rich, Matt Eagles and Tom Fullarton kicked the morning off with a clinic for Jones Hill State School students, running through basic skill drills as part of the club's bid to grow the game in thirteen regions across 600km of the state.
29-year-old rookie Eagles said he was impressed with the juniors' response to the clinic.
"It's literally our first stop, so we've just been running through some clinics with the kids and trying to keep cool,” he said.
"They interacted really well and they engaged, they were very polite as well.
"I think it's really good for grassroots footy, all the kids seem to be engaged and having fun. It's great for Queensland footy and the kids have had a great attitude towards it.
"It's good to just get around Queensland. We're pretty stuck in the season, we're stuck at the club most of the time so it's good to get out and interact with different parts of Queensland.”
Fellow rookie and former Gympie Cats junior Fullarton said growing the game was a win for the overall Aussie Rules code.
"We probably don't realise it at the time, but just us coming out here could inspire some kids to sign up at Gympie, it's basically what we're trying to do, get a couple more kids to sign up,” Fullarton said.
183-game veteran Rich said the club was "in a good space to attack” the 2019 season after a gruelling pre-season campaign.
"It's been really good, I think everyone's at different stages individually,” Rich said.
"I think the majority of the group's completed the majority of pre-season. We've had big numbers out on the training track and done a fair bit more footy stuff this year.
"You've still got to get your running and that type of stuff, but I think there's been a bigger focus on playing footy and training a few more game situations, and we've done a lot more match practice earlier.”
Rich said he "couldn't fault” the pre-seasons of the club's newest recruits, which include former Fremantle star Lachie Neale and ex-Western Bulldog Marcus Adams.
Rich, Eagles and Fullarton joined teammates Dayne Zorko, Jarryd Lyons, Nick Robertson, Cameron Rayner, Lewis Taylor, Connor Ballenden and Branden Starcevich for a clinic with junior Gympie Cats stars at Ray Warren Oval in the afternoon.
Gympie is the top Lions destination for this year's community camp, with 10 players visiting in total.
The Lions continue their camp today with a visit to Gympie State High School.