Suns gives Rocky kids a taste of AFL
AFL: Members of the Gold Coast Suns landed in Rockhampton this week, keen to spread the AFL message in what they appreciate is rugby league heartland.
Players and staff ran community camps at a number of schools, demonstrating and talking students through a range of game-related drills.
Development coach Aaron Rogers and player Trent McKenzie received an enthusiastic welcome from Frenchville State School students, who were keen to test their kicking and passing skills.
Rogers said it was a good chance to "spread the word” about AFL.
"It's just about letting these kids know that AFL is a sport that they can play and we're trying to find the next hidden gem amongst what is rugby league heartland,” he said.
"There are some kids here that don't even know they're going to be AFL players yet.
"They might be playing soccer or rugby league but once they're introduced to AFL, maybe through something like this, it can be a really exciting prospect that can take their life in a totally different direction.”
Rogers said the Suns pre-season was off to a good start, having scored several wins in the JLT Series including a three-point victory over Essendon in Mackay at the weekend.
"The form's looking good. If we can get 10 wins this year that would be a huge improvement on the six of last year.
"Improvement is the expectation and I think that's going to be achievable.”
Niggling injuries have kept McKenzie out of the opening pre-season fixtures but he said he was hopeful of lining up this weekend against the Brisbane Lions.
"The boys are feeling good and looking forward to the season start,” he said.
"We're all hoping to play finals. We believe if everyone's fit and up and ready we can give it a crack.
"We had a few years there where we haven't won too many games but we believe we can turn it around pretty quick and hopefully if we can get off to a good start, get some momentum we can push for finals.”
McKenzie, nicknamed "The Cannon” because of his long-range kicking ability, said one of the Suns strengths was speed across the ground.
"If we can get our hands on the ball and then use our run, especially from the backline and through the midfield, we can get the ball in quick to our big tall forwards in Tommy Lynch and Peter Wright.
"If we can use our speed to advantage hopefully we can run a few sides off their legs.”
This was McKenzie's first visit to Rockhampton and he was clearly enjoying the opportunity to work with what could well be future Suns stars.
"We're only a young side, a young club and up in Queensland it's pretty much rugby league dominated so it's good to get out and share our knowledge on AFL and hopefully get some kids playing the game.”