Lions, Suns showcase homegrown stars
THE best footballers in Queensland at the moment are Queenslanders.
Dayne Beams should win the Merrett-Murray medal as Brisbane's best and fairest and it's highly likely that two other Queenslanders Dayne Zorko and Harris Andrews round out the top three for the first time.
Twice before there have been three Queenslanders in Brisbane's top five - 2001 when Michael Voss tied for first with West Australian Simon Black and Jason Akermanis finished 4th with Marcus Ashcroft 5th and 2002 when Voss was 2nd, Ashcroft 3rd and Mal Michael 5th.
Jarrod Harbrow is on track to win his first Suns club champion award which would mark the first time locally produced players have taken out the top gong at both clubs.
Lachie Weller will storm home in the Suns best and fairest after a slow start to the season and could finish in the top five while Alex Sexton and Jack Bowes are in superb late season form.
While the two AFL clubs are still at the wrong end of the ladder, AFLQ CEO Dean Warren says the impact they are having on the development of young talent across the state is profound.
The generation of young players that have grown up in the era of two AFL clubs in the state are making their mark on the national stage.
Earlier this month Will Ashcroft, son of triple premiership Lion Marcus, was named an Under 15s All Australian as a bottom ager.
Queensland's Under 12s schoolboys team finished second in a national carnival last week, beating powerhouses South Australia and Western Australia along the way.
"That is unheard of,'' Warren said.
"It just goes to show that our pathway programs are working and we need to celebrate that.
"With two AFL clubs in the state there is more exposure and because of the academies there is also more opportunities.
"No matter where you live in Queensland now, if you are a good player you will get identified and put into a program and that is because of two clubs and their investment into academies.
"We are developing AFL ready talent and that is something I am really proud of.''
Twelve Queenslanders played in the Q Clash of which eight came through one of the two club academies.
Both the Lions and Suns have strategic goals to one day have at least a third of their list made up of Queenslanders as the premier defence against go-home factor that continues to cost both clubs.
"The retention element is always a challenge and having home grown talent helps on two front,'' Warren said.
"When new players come they make friends with Queensland raised teammates it exposes them to a broader network within the community, it gives them an escape outside the footy club.
"It is important that they assimilate into the community rather than just the footy club.''
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