THE production line of AFL Cairns footballers transitioning to the Gold Coast to become a permanent member of the Suns academy has boasted names like Jack Bowes, Jacob Heron and Caleb Graham in recent years.
Bowes and Heron are on the Suns senior list this season, with Graham expected to join them later this year.
Manunda Hawk Alex Davies is the next cab off the rank on that production line and will soon be followed by Cairns Saints talent Austin Harris.
It has been an huge week for the Trinity Bay SHS student, with Harris yesterday awarded the coveted AFL Queensland Troy Clarke Scholarship before making his long-awaited senior debut for the Saints this afternoon.
Harris, who represented the AFL World team recently through his Thai background, will share his debut with fellow teenager and teammate, Oakley Wallace, against Cairns City Lions.
Saints have been keen to bring the pair into their senior side for much of the season, but playing-coach Tim Lamprill has resisted the urge until they have completed their school representative football for the year.
“Austin has had a pretty big 12 months, he has been away a lot for footy and now he gets the chance to come back and just play club footy, which should take some pressure off,” Lamprill said.
“Both Austin and Oakley are over and above in their age-group footy and both are very smart and good ball users.
“They both really understand the modern game and being involved with plenty of development squads, they know how things need to be done.”
TALENTED PAIR: Fifteen-year-olds Oakley Wallace and Austin Harris are gearing up for their senior debuts when the Cairns Saints play Cairns City Lions this weekend. Picture: BRENDAN RADKE.
Harris will complete his final two years of his high school on the Gold Coast to become a permanent part of the Suns academy — just as Bowes and Heron did before him — from next year.
“It is just another stepping stone in the future for the two boys to play seniors this weekend,” Harris’ father, Errol said.
“A lot of success has come quickly for Austin, it is reward for all his hard work and effort, and the time his coaches put into him.”
Former Sydney Swans player Kurt Tippett, who was discovered by Clarke as a teenager, is the Troy Clarke Scholarship Ambassador and will mentor Harris.