Lennox Head?s Wayde Mills who captained the Queensland Under-18 AFL team recently.
Lennox Head?s Wayde Mills who captained the Queensland Under-18 AFL team recently.

Rising star

By STEVE SPINKS

NOT many athletes would live in a caravan for two months for their sport.

But that's exactly what Lennox Head AFL player Wayde Mills did.

The 17-year-old and his mother Sharlene moved to Mt Gravatt, Brisbane, for two months while Wayde trained and played with the Queensland Under-18 representative side.

The move paid off.

At the Australian Under-18s Championship in Melbourne recently, Mills won selection in the All-Australian team as centre-halfback.

The National tournament is THE tournament for aspiring AFL stars.

And according to those in the know, Mills is one.

"Last year when I was living down here the travel made me get niggly injuries," Mills said.

"So we thought it would be better for my football if I moved up there (Mt Gravatt). It (the caravan) was pretty small.

"I saw plenty of Mum."

It was the second time Mills had been selected in the Queensland Under-18 team but this year was special ... he was named captain.

"It was a bit of a surprise," he chuckled. "I'm pretty quiet."

But Mills led by example and the Maroons finished second in division two at the championship which was played at Optus Oval and Skilled Stadium.

Standing at 1.96m tall and weighing 88kg, the Southern Cross K-12 student looks like he would be equally at home in the second-row of any rugby union side.

He tried it along with a host of different sports, but didn't really enjoy it.

After all, he was born in the AFL-mad territory of Albury.

The Mills family moved to Lennox nine years ago.

Wayde always knew he wanted to pursue AFL, so his family obliged.

They started driving him to Coolangatta every weekend for regular starts in the strong Gold Coast junior competition.

Mills transferred to the seniors last year and he plays with Southport who are traditionally one of the strongest teams in the Queensland State League.

Luckily, he's got a familiar face at the club.

Former Ballina player Kevin Tandogac is one of the Sharks' captains.

Later this year he will attend the draft camp at the Australian Institute of Sport where he will be subjected to a host of athletic testing.

All players must get through the draft camp to be eligible to be drafted into an AFL club.

Mills would prefer to be picked up by his beloved St Kilda, but he realises the Brisbane Lions could be a better option as it would be closer to home.

Up until then, he'll continue turning out for the Southport Sharks, training hard and trying to catch up on his Year 12 studies. At least he'll be doing it from the comfort of the family home in Lennox Head.



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