Run of the Mills


IT was easy to spot the new faces at the Brisbane Lions' first official AFL training session on Wednesday.

It was the first since they returned from the Kokoda Trail.

The rookies, fresh-faced and wide-eyed, could barely believe they were standing next to some of the game's greats at the club's training headquarters at Coorparoo.

They were all there.

Brownlow Medallists Michael Voss, Simon Black and Jason Akermanis, giant forward Jonathan Brown, as well as ferocious defender Mal Michael, just to name a few.

There was also the coach ? Leigh Matthews.

'Lethal' Leigh was infamous as a player and is already a legend of the sport.

And in the middle of them all stood four rookies yet to make their AFL debut.

Lennox Head's Wayde Mills, along with Mitchell Clark, Rhan Hooper and Joel Patfull, are far from household names in a State still largely dominated by the rugby codes.

Yet the Lions are hoping at least one of them will make the transformation from skinny youngster to potential match-winner who can draw the crowds.

Clark and Mills appear to be the two rookies with the best chance of making their debuts this season, judging by their physical appearance.

Mills, the No25 draft pick, is an athletic 1.96m tall centre half-back who weighs 88kg and has already had a full season of senior football with the Southport Sharks in the Queensland State League.

Clark, the No9 draft pick from East Fremantle, overcame a bout of the potentially deadly meningococcal disease to take his place at today's training session.

At 1.98m and 92kg, he is being groomed by Brisbane as the Lions' next powerhouse in the ruck and ? in even better news for the club ? is not worried about playing in Queensland.

For Mills, being picked up by Brisbane was his preferred choice because it is close to his parents, Richard and Sharlene, at Lennox Head.

The 18-year-old former Southern Cross K-12 student became the first Northern Rivers AFL player to be picked up by a professional club through the draft only last week.

Mills' transformation from teenager to professional footballer is now under way.

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