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2017 NAB AFL Draft Wrap

Josie Fielding  November 24, 2017 10:13 PM

 - Brisbane Lions,Draft

Western Jets junior Cameron Rayner was selected as the Brisbane Lions number one pick earlier this evening at the 2017 NAB AFL Draft in Sydney.

Brisbane Lions Senior Coach Chris Fagan proudly presented Rayner with his Lions guernsey on stage.

Rayner told lions.com.au he cannot wait to get to Brisbane and start training with his new teammates. “I’m looking forward to going up north and joining the Lions and look forward to meeting everyone.” 

The Lions national recruitment manager Stephen Conole says the 18-year-old is an explosive, powerful half forward who can also play in the midfield.

“He’s always been a highly regarded player. He’s still a player that’s developing his midfield craft, but he’ll start forward of the ball and he’ll end up being a forward that can roll through the midfield. He’s an exciting player,” Conole said.

Rayner is one of six new players to join the Lions den in the 2018 season, following the 2017 AFL Draft.

With pick 15 the Lions selected Northern Territory speedster Zac Bailey. The 18 year old attended boarding school in South Australia and was unknown to recruiters 12 months ago, before he starred for the Allies at the NAB AFL U18 Championships earlier this year.

“He’s had a huge year, he’s had to balance his school footy, his SANFL footy with Norwood, he’s played for NT and he’s played for the Allies. He’s got genuine pace. His ability to get in and out of traffic is elite. I’m sure he’ll become a solid midfielder in AFL,” Conole said.

Brisbane’s next selection at pick 18 was East Perth’s Brandon Starcevich, nephew of Lions AFLW Coach Craig Starcevich.

“Brandon is a powerful player who’s testing at State Combine was very impressive. His variety of roles is very appealing. Brandon can play midfield or go forward, and will be a great acquisition to our Club,” Conole said.

Victorian Toby Wooller was the Club’s 41st pick. Wooller was the Oakleigh Chargers captain this season in the TAC Cup and plays in the forward line or midfield. The 18-year-old is a strong leader, with a competitive nature to match.

The Lions then matched Fremantle’s bid for Hyundai Help for Kids Lions Academy player Connor Ballenden, with pick 43.

Ballenden’s size and marking ability sets him apart.

“He’s a brute of a kid who’s gone all the way through our Academy program. Connor is still learning much of the game but when he begins to get his motor up and fill out that big body he will be valuable in a number of roles for the Lions.”

Brisbane’s final selection for the night was fellow Academy product Jack Payne, selected with pick 54.

The Sunshine Coast junior only started playing football in his teenage years but in that short time has shown great potential.

“He’s a big bodied defender. Potentially going forward he’ll be able to play on really big, strong forwards. He’s very quick and super competitive,” Conole said.

Both Ballenden and Payne played for the Lions’ NEAFL side in their Grand Final win over the Sydney Swans earlier this year.

All six new recruits will start arriving in Brisbane next week. 

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