SUNNY FUTURE: Lachlan Elliott and Jason Stanhope have been selected in the AFL Suns Cap Academy.
SUNNY FUTURE: Lachlan Elliott and Jason Stanhope have been selected in the AFL Suns Cap Academy. Matt Taylor GLA271118SUNS

It's off-season, but not for these as selection tests loom

AUSSIE RULES: It's taken Jason Stanhope just one season.

And already his talents have been recognised because he has been selected in the Capricornia Under-16 Development Squad which is a part of the Gold Coast Suns Talent Academy.

A product of the Gladstone Brothers Rugby League juniors and more than classy on the Touch Football field, Jason 15, tried his hand at Aussie Rules with Gladstone Suns (formerly Gladstone Mudcrabs).

He joins team-mate Lachlan Elliott in the squad.

SUNNY FUTURE: Lachlan Elliott and Jason Stanhope have been selected in the AFL Suns Cap Academy.
Lachlan Elliott and Jason Stanhope sharpen their skills. Matt Taylor GLA271118SUNS

"Touch has helped me in agility, fitness and burst of speed while league has helped me to tackle and how to hip and shoulder," Jason said.

What made his selection more remarkable was that a shoulder injury prevented him from taking part in the 2018 Summer Development Camp in Cooee Bay recently.

His athleticism is his biggest asset and he has banked enough points from his strong form in the AFL Capricornia junior competition, along with selection in the Cobras and Kookaburra teams earlier in the year.

Lachlan, also 15, is a left-footed midfielder who looks up to Hawthorn's Brownlow Medallist Tom Mitchell and ex-Hawk Sam Mitchell.

"The camp was great and we learnt kicking techniques and I though I did well in the agility testing as well," he said. Lachlan was runner-up in the best and fairest for the Gladstone Suns' U15 team.

He tells where his football journey began. "I have been playing footy in West Gippsland in Victoria and moved here at the start of last year," Lachlan said.

AFL Capricornia competition and club development manager Brad Matheson said there's no rest for the players.

"There has been a few changes to the format of the Suns Academy Program this year with the introduction of a four-phase process to reach the elite level academy squads," he said.

"From here, we will have a four-week pre-Christmas program that the kids will carry out in their regions that will include a craft session and a strength and conditioning session.

"The boys will be required to complete a running session in their own time."

It's then a 10-week program with two sessions per week which will include the Summer Development Program as well as one session per week as the entire group.

The squad of 35 will then be reduced to 23 that will go away and represent Central Queensland at the North Queensland Academy Series in Airlie Beach from March 22-24.

Spots in the North Queensland Suns Academy will be up for grabs that will later travel to the Gold Coast to be a part of the Suns Academy Series.

"The team will compete against the other Academy Regions as players vie for a spot in the final U16 Gold Coast Suns Academy squad who will take on the Lions Academy in a series of matches later in the year (2019) which will be the selection trials for the U16 state team," Matheson said.

All is not lost for those who miss the cut.

"After the Airlie Beach series, those who are not selected in the North Queensland Academy Squad and are identified as having potential to develop - primarily the 15-year-olds and some 16 - will be given individual development training programs and will attend sessions once a week throughout the season to continue their development towards the 2020 squads," Matheson said.


STAR BITS SAINTS: Ryan Shanks, Adam Hull, Joseph Airton, Brock Rouse, Jordan Jacobsen, Dylan Baartz, Sam Spencer-Glavin, Emmett Case - Capricornia U16 Development Squad

GC SUNS TALENT ACADEMY: Brooke Sheridan (BITS Saints), Tierney Burke (Gladstone Suns) - NQ U16 Squad