Mills a boon up forward
LENNOX HEAD local Wayde Mills will be the first to admit he bumbled his way through his first four AFL games as a defender for the Brisbane Lions in his debut season last year. So when the opportunity came to join the headline-makers in the forward line six weeks ago, he grabbed the chance with both hands. Mills now has a taste for life as a forward after kicking his first goal in the AFL against the Kangaroos at the 'Gabba last weekend. Mills, 20 later this month, was playing for the club's reserves, the Suncoast Lions in the AFL-Q State League, when some bright spark on the coaching panel shifted him from defence to the forward line. The result? An AFL call-up coinciding with a five-match winning streak thrusting the Lions to eighth place on the AFL ladder and a real chance to play finals football. Mills told The Northern Star there's a bit more feeling around the club since their streak began. "We've given ourselves every opportunity to play finals footy," he said. "There's a bit of a buzz around the club at the moment so we just want to build on that." He said he knew that when he marked the ball 45 metres out from goal in the game against the Kangaroos that he just had to kick it through. "We kicked about four points up to that time so I was a bit nervous. We needed a goal so I was just happy to get one for the team," he said. "It definitely feels a lot better when you kick a goal because you don't get too many rewards being a defender." Having Mills in the forward line has given the Lions more options in attack, and an extra headache for opposition teams already trying to combat man-mountain Johnathon Brown and the freakishly talented Jared Brennan. "Browny's been a great help," Mills said. "Sometimes you can get a bit lost in the forward line but having him tell you where to go and where to be for the ball has been a great help." Still, Mills is fully aware that you're only as good as your last game. "We have 'Bradds' (full-forward Daniel Bradshaw) to come back from injury yet so I've got to make most of my chances," he said. The Lions' five-game winning streak began in Perth over high-flyers West Coast, the first of Mills' games in attack. The Lions get the chance to extend that streak when they face another top- eight aspirant Hawthorn at the MCG this afternoon.