Sport

Close chosen by Brisbane Lions as 'project player'

Brisbane Lions captain Jonathan Brown.
Brisbane Lions captain Jonathan Brown. Kari Bourne

MICHAEL Close couldn't believe it when he got a text from Brisbane Lions captain Jonathan Brown congratulating him on being chosen by the club in this month's national draft.

Close, who grew up in the tiny western Victorian town of Harrow, didn't have a favourite team or player when he was growing up.

But if there was one player the 18-year-old wanted to emulate, it would be Brown.

While the youngster has a big frame, he admitted it would take some time for him to grow into it.

That means a chance to line up alongside the skipper may not eventuate in 2013.

"I haven't got the muscle yet - I'm still what they call a project player," Close said.

"I just want to learn as much as I can and feed off big Jonno Brown. It's pretty surreal having him as a teammate."

While Close grew up in Harrow, he boarded at Monivae College in Hamilton from year nine, before shifting to St Pat's in Ballarat to complete his secondary schooling and be part of the North Ballarat Rebels program in the TAC Cup.

He wasn't the only player to shine in that environment, with good mate Tanner Smith drafted by Fremantle and Martin Gleeson selected by Essendon.

Teammates Jake Neade (Port Adelaide) and Dominic Barry (Melbourne) were also selected on senior AFL lists prior to the draft, Close saying he wouldn't be surprised if more Rebels players were picked up in next month's rookie draft.

The team finished minor premiers in the TAC Cup but was beaten by Oakleigh by 83 points in the preliminary final.

Close said he was still pinching himself being part of the Lions set-up, although the first week for the three draftees has just been about meeting the players and coaches and watching how the senior players prepare and train.

"It's just unreal being here ... I can't believe it," he said.

"Monday we just watched the players train, Tuesday we did a couple of sessions and then had an ice bath, and Wednesday was a day off.

"We won't do the workloads the players do for a while just to avoid injuries."

Close is staying with established player Aaron Cornelius, but next week will move into a house with Sam Mayes and Marco Paparone who were also picked up in the draft.

The trio can expect a visit from Lions player welfare manager Manny Lynch - brother of Lions triple premiership player Alistair - who Close said would "explain the rules and teach us how to cook".

Close has big shoes to fill - he knows he was drafted as a potential replacement for Brown, saying, "He's certainly one of the players I'd like to model my game on".

If he turns out half as good as his skipper, everyone in Harrow will be thrilled.

Topics:  afl, aussie rules, brisbane lions, jonathan brown


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Child abduction charges filed against 16-year-old

A man and woman were arrested following a police chase last night at Blacksoil.

Boy on child abduction charges after a 10-month-old went missing

Two Ipswich women charged over Adelaide murder

A photo of Robert Whitwell, released by South Australia Police.

South Australia to seek extradition

Drowning victim, 2, had been playing 'hide and seek'

Police at the scene of a drowning in Helidon Spa.

Groundswell of support for toddler's grieving family

Latest deals and offers

Jo-Ann Miller speech leaves ALP faithful stunned

When Jo-Ann Miller spoke to the Labor faithful at Trades Hall last Saturday she threw a series of grenades that could well have explosive repercussions.

Child abduction charges filed against 16-year-old

A man and woman were arrested following a police chase last night at Blacksoil.

Boy on child abduction charges after a 10-month-old went missing

Two Ipswich women charged over Adelaide murder

A photo of Robert Whitwell, released by South Australia Police.

South Australia to seek extradition

Drowning victim, 2, had been playing 'hide and seek'

Police at the scene of a drowning in Helidon Spa.

Groundswell of support for toddler's grieving family

Woman, 22, has died from injuries after Underwood crash

A Police Forensic Crash Unit vehicle at the scene of a serious crash, Saturday, December 06, 2014. Photo Kevin Farmer / The Chronicle

Two-vehicle crash occurred at Kingston and Compton rds

Where the sinkhole water came from

The Basin Pocket sinkhole was drained into  gully.

The lab results are in

Die-hard fan's 34 magic Gympie Muster years

STICK AROUND FOR A BEER: Mal Williams has been at every Gympie Muster for 34 years.

Mal Williams has only missed one Muster in 35 years - the first one

MOVIE REVIEW: Life on the Road

Ricky Gervais, Ben Bailey Smith and Foregone Conclusion (Steve Clarke, Andy Burrows, Stuart Baxter Wilkinson, Michael Clarke) in a scene from David Brent: Life on the Road.

Ricky Gervais has brought David Brent back to life on the big screen

Jessica Alba wants tequila shots served at her funeral

Businesswoman and actor Jessica Alba

There won't be mourning at this funeral

Tom Hiddleston's Instagram account hacked

Actor Tom Hiddleston

Thor star the latest celebrity targetted by hackers

Charlize Theron's son dresses up as Frozen character

Actor Charlize Theron

Star's son spotted dressed a beloved Frozen character

BOOKS: Food for thought in Caroline Beecham's latest novel

Maggie's Kitchen by Caroline Beecham is published by Allen & Unwin, RRP $29.99.

New novel reminds readers that bravery exists in many forms

TELEVISION: New show is a Survivor, for now

Jonathan LaPaglia hosts the TV series Australian Survivor.

WHAT happens when a new show with a big budget flops?

REVEALED: Pat Rafter's $18m Coast house on the market

Check out the photos of the Coast's most expensive property for sale

The "correction we had to have" in Gladstone's rentals

UPWARD MARCH: The rental vacancy rate in Gladstone has improved for the first time in more than a year, providing a confidence boost in the market.

Vacancy rates improve with signs that things are getting betterF

ISLAND FOR SALE: Cheap Fraser Coast island drops price again

Suna Island in the Great Sandy Strait will be auctioned by Ray White Hervey Bay on Saturday morning.

This is the cheapest island you will find for sale in Australia

How a family home can fit on a 250sq m block

This is what you can build on 250m2.

Here's the floor plan of a home built on 250sq m

$100m plan for Curtis Island 'world class' luxury resort

$100 million resort: Top views at Turtle Street at Curtis Island.

"At the moment we think it meets all the town planning approvals.”

Noosa mayor on "red alert" over planning court decision

Mayor Tony Wellington hands down his first budget.

Mayor upset at lack of say about look and feel of Noosa