By STEVE SPINKS
THE last time Lennox Head AFL player Wayde Mills lived in Brisbane it was in a caravan with his mum.
When Mills moves to Brisbane this week to take up a contract with the Brisbane Lions, he's hopeful his next digs are a bit better.
The 18-year-old on Saturday became the first Northern Rivers AFL player to be picked up in the national draft when the Lions surprised everyone, including Mills, by selecting the central defender with their second pick at No 25.
Obviously, Brisbane were impressed with the dedication to the game of the former Southern Cross K-12 student.
After all, Mills lived for two months in a caravan park at Mt Gravatt with his mum while he juggled commitments to the Queensland Under-18 team, which competed at the Australian championships earlier this year, and his studies for the Higher School Certificate.
"I'm ecstatic," Mills told The Northern Star yesterday.
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"They (Brisbane) hadn't really talked to me much so I didn't expect to go there, even though I was hoping to.
"I was thinking either Geelong, Adelaide or Essendon.
"I think they (Brisbane) didn't say anything because they didn't want anyone to know.
"It's a bit of a game, the draft."
Mills will head to Brisbane during the week with his first training session scheduled next Monday and the teenager is still unsure of how he is supposed to speak to the likes of Lions superstars Jason Akermanis, Michael Voss and Johnathon Brown, or even coach Leigh Matthews.
"It all comes pretty quickly doesn't it," Mills laughed.
"They'll probably stay pretty clear of me.
"But he (Matthews) is a proven coach and I don't think you could get anybody better."
If not chosen in the Lions starting team, Mills will be required to play with the feeder team the Sunshine Coast Lions, who play in the Queensland AFL State League.
It means the defender will come up against his old club the Southport Sharks, with whom he won a flag last season.
But Mills is hopeful of cracking a starting spot in the AFL at some stage next season even though competition for his spot comes from three-time premiership winner and longtime club member Justin Leppitsch.
"That's (playing in the AFL) one of my goals," he said.
"He's (Leppitsch) a good player but he's had a bit of bad luck of late with injuries."
Even if Mills doesn't quite crack the big league in his first year, at least he'll be living in slightly better accommodation.