LISTEN: Suns' coach holds big hopes for Boyne-Tannum product
AFL: Gold Coast Suns Academy head coach Andrew Raines has been impressed with the progress BITS Saints' product Kane Haua is making.
Haua has been a part of the academy for the past two seasons and has moved south at the start of the year for university and to make best of an opportunity to get drafted to an AFL club at the end of the season.
"We offer them the opportunity to come down to relocate off their own back," Raines said of youngsters who have left high school to pursue an AFL pathway.
"It's more for their pathway and they do various other things like uni and move to a bigger town anyway and that's sort of the whole process."
Haua is living on campus and Raines said that he is balancing study, training and playing along with two part-time jobs.
There is much to like about Haua's weapons according to former Richmond, Brisbane Lions and Suns 123-game AFL player Raines.
"The attributes he shows is his speed and running ability," he said.
"He's got a high work-rate and works really hard up the ground and gets back towards goal really well, so we're thinking about playing him forward."
The Suns Academy side have a practice match against their Brisbane Lions counterparts on Saturday and will be playing for selection ahead of the five-game Academy Series next month.
"His pressure up forward is really good and he tackles very well and is aggressive and strong and that's what we're liking at the moment," he said.
"He's got a long way to go in terms of the next step whether he can match it with other academies around Australia and obviously the best in Victoria and WA if he's fortunate enough to get an opportunity in the division one stuff which is later in the year."
Raines said that an Allies team will be picked from the Academy Series and that team will then compete against WA, SA Vic Country and Metro in June and July in what is called the Division One Under-18 national Championships.
"We had about five or six that represented the Allies last year from our academy and we had a pretty good squad," he said.
"Kane and the rest of those boys will be vying for a spot to play in the Allies."
Raines said competition for those spots will be very tough and players will need to show ability to play with composure under constant pressure.
There are also opportunities for those players who miss selection in either the Academy Series or Allies teams.
"They (non-selected players) go back to play for their QAFL clubs and then from there they get to also represent the Suns in the NEAFL if they are needed," he said.
Strongly-built Yeppoon Swans star Ari Miles has recovered from an ankle injury and will join Haua for the trail game against Lions Academy tomorrow.
"He's got really high work-rate and pretty good endurance and is very strong through the contest," Raines said.
"He's got great leadership off-field and great character and we hold him in really great regard."