WINDOWS OF OPPORTUNITY: Jonty MacDougall kicks forward for the Darling Downs Demons against Moreton Bay during the U16 South Country Carnival earlier this year.
WINDOWS OF OPPORTUNITY: Jonty MacDougall kicks forward for the Darling Downs Demons against Moreton Bay during the U16 South Country Carnival earlier this year. Contributed

New Brisbane pathways for Aussie rules players

AUSSIE RULES: A reinvigorated pathway is set to provide greater opportunities for up-and-coming Australian rules talent on the Downs.

AFL Queensland announced the implementation of a new four-phase structure, designed to provide a better overall coaching experience and more chances to succeed.

A major change of the current structure for U16 males will see a squad of 40 of the region's best players push for spots in the Brisbane Lions Academy and Queensland state championship side.

"It's an opportunity for greater exposure to higher level football which means we can have more boys paying representative footy in the region,” AFL Darling Downs regional manager Jeff Neumann said.

"There's an open invitation for 15 and 16 year olds across the Downs, and there will then be a maximum squad of 40 picked.

"They'll train from November through to March and will play some inter-squad games throughout before picking AFLX teams to go to the Lions Academy carnival.”

From that point on players will be selected in a combined Darling Downs-Brisbane South side to compete in a triangular series against other regions in the traditional 18-a-side format, with a Brisbane Lions Academy side chosen from that.

This team will go on to face the Gold Coast Suns Academy team, serving as a selection trial for the U16 Queensland side, with the potential to represent at the national championships.

"It's a great chance for them to be involved at a higher performance level,” Neumann said.

"They're involved across a longer period and it allows us to work on the basics of the game and is a concerted effort to streamline the coaching and training program.

"It's a great opportunity for us to coach and develop the players for longer, have more state representatives and there is that potential they can be drafted into the AFL.”

Selection trials for the 40-boy Darling Downs squad will take place in November for players no older than 16 in 2019.



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