Brethren chases opportunities
BROTHERS Bulldogs will have to push for their maiden premiership next season without five of their most promising young players.
But far from worrying about it, club development manager Mark Mason is embracing the exodus.
“We are very proud to be continually giving young players the opportunity to play at the highest level by keeping close contact with Brisbane-based AFLQ clubs,” he said.
Young gun Jock Oates will be one of the hardest players to replace for the club.
But the club knew it was not going to be able to keep Oates for long.
At 15, the budding superstar is already 193cm and a member of the All Australian squad in his age group.
After securing a Michael Voss scholarship in January last year, Oates decided to spend 2010 in Brisbane to enhance his career opportunities.
When the school year starts, he will head to Anglican Church Grammar School and play for Morningside in Brisbane.
“It will really help my development because I will be playing in a better competition and I’ll have specialised coaches,” he said.
His brother Rory will join him in heading south next season.
He will be moving to the Gold Coast to study and play for Southport in the State League competition.
In that competition he could find himself playing against former team-mates Hayden Thick, Jake Goldsmith and Ryan Dempsey, who are also trying their luck with teams in Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Dempsey will likely play for Aspley next season, while fellow Brothers star Goldsmith looks set to play for Labrador.
“They are two players who really stepped up for our seniors last year. They were probably two of the best last season,” Mason said.
AFL newcomer Thick will join Western Magpies next year.
Mason said the stocky teen had a bright future.
“He’s only been playing a couple of years so he’s very new to the game, but with the right coaching he has the potential to do big things,” he said.
Rory Oates, 18, admitted that it would be a strange experience playing against his former team-mates.
“We’ve played together for a little while and we’re all pretty close, so it will be a bit weird to be in the opposition,” he said.
Bulldogs, which made the grand final in AFL Wide Bay in 2009, will look to win its maiden premiership under new coach Wayne Ling this year.
Mason admitted that the loss of the quality players would hit the club, but he was confident Brothers had the depth to cope with it.
“Obviously it’d be nice if they came back, but you only get 10 years where you can play high-quality football, so it’s good to see them taking these opportunities,” he said.