Sandgate key forward/ruckman Declan Bevan and Southport midfielder Jesse Haberfield will fly the Queensland flag in the 2007 AIS/AFL Academy squad.

The pair were named this week by Academy coach Alan McConnell after the Australia Post Queensland Young Scorpions won the NAB AFL Australian U16 championships in Brisbane recently.

It is a secondary recognition for both after Bevan won the Alan McLean Medal as the best player in division two at the U16 championships and Haberfield was named Queensland's `most valuable player'.

Bevan, who won't turn 16 until November, is a 2006-07 member of the Lions Academy who represented Queensland at U16 level in 2006. He is the son of a former NBL basketballer and plays junior representative basketball himself.

He is described by AFLQ Talent Manager Mark Browning as an enormously talented prospect at 195cm, with good skills, a clunking mark and the ability to feed the ball off exceptionally well with his hands.

Haberfield, who turned 16 in January, is a 180cm midfielder described by Browning as "a pretty unassuming character' with tremendous football `smarts'. He wins the ball well in tight but has good all-round skills and is an exceptional tackler.

He was a State U15 Schoolboys representative in 2006 and, like Bevan, with whom he shared the Queensland vice-captaincy at the U16 Championships, is a 2006-07 Lions Academy member.

Bevan and Haberfield join an exclusive group of Queenslanders to win Academy selection and will set out on a path which, while it offers no guarantees, has historically led to the AFL.

Of 16 Queensland members in this elite group from the first intake in 1997 to 2005 all but three were drafted. And eight have played in the AFL this year.

The 2007 Academy squad will enjoy a five-star coaching program and an overseas experience similar to the tour to South Africa by the 2006 squad which included Queenslanders Joey Daye, Sam Reid and Brendan Whitecross.

The inclusion of just two Queenslanders in the Academy squad after the Young Scorpions won the division two U16 national title so convincingly was a source of disappointment to some.

But rather be critical, Browning pushed for a revision to the U16 program next year so as to give the division two players exposure to division one opposition in a similar way to that which happens at U18 level.

"It's an elite squad made up of 16 and 17-year-olds and we need to show what the Queenslanders can do against the best opposition," he said.

Queenslanders in the AIS/AFL Academy: 2007: Declan Bevan, Jesse Haberfield.
2006: Joey Daye, Sam Reid, Brendan Whitecross.
2005: David Armitage, Gavin Urquhart, Ricky Petterd, Brent Renouf, Albert Proud.
2004: Daniel Dzufer, Rhan Hooper.
2003: Pat Garner, Adam Hall.
2002: Ben Drew.
2001: -
2000: David Hale, Joel Macdonald.
1999: Heath Lawry.
1998: Michael Davis.
1997: Shane Morrison, Robert Copeland.

The AFL nominated 30 of the nation's elite young footballers to join the 11th AIS/AFL squad, including 21 players who took part in the recent NAB U16 Championships and four from the NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.

There are 17 Victorians, five West Australians, five South Australians, two Queenslanders and one Tasmanian.

AFL General Manager National and International Development David Matthews welcomed the latest AIS-AFL Academy intake.

"The AIS-AFL Academy is a key component of the NAB AFL Rising Stars Program as it provides an intensive, 12-month training program for 30 elite young players from all around Australia," said Matthews.

"This is the eleventh intake, with 300 young players from across Australia having taken part since 1997."

Of the players currently listed at the 16 AFL clubs, 135 or 19 per cent have graduated from the AIS-AFL Academy.

Over the next year, the players will meet for three camps during school holidays and also travel on an international tour.

The program has been a launching pad for many AFL careers with past graduates including Chris Judd, Andrew Embley, Cameron Ling, Luke Hodge and Lance Franklin.

The squad will be managed by AIS-AFL High performance coach Alan McConnell.

Candidates were considered if they -
* had displayed the potential to play Australia football at the elite level;
* had represented their state at the NAB AFL Under 16 or Under 18 Championships, or were nominated for consideration by their relevant state talent managers;
* were ineligible for the 2007 NAB AFL Draft;
* displayed evidence of appropriate values and attitudes needed to become an AFL player;
* displayed evidence of a commitment to school and education outside their football interests.

The full 2007/08 AIS-AFL Academy Squad

South Australia - Tyson Davis-Neale (South Adelaide/Encounter Bay), Alex Carey (Glenelg/Flagstaff Hill), Matthew Thompson (Sturt/Murray Bridge), Lewis Johnston (North Adelaide/Parks FC), Matthew Broadbent (Eagles/Henley)

Queensland - Jesse Haberfield (Southport), Declan Bevan (Sandgate)

Tasmania - Liam Jones (North Hobart FC)

Vic Country - Steele Sidebottom (Murray/Congupna), Jack Ziebell (Marray/Wodonga Bulldogs), John Butcher (Gippsland/Maffra), Nick Suban (North Ballarat/Baccus Marsh), Ayce Cordy (Geelong/Geelong College), Nicholas Heyne (Gippsland/Orbost Snowy Rivers)

Vic Metro - Tom Scully (Dandenong/Narre Warren), Jack Fitzpatrick (Western/Wyndamvale), Sam Blease (Eastern/Norwood), Liam Shiels (Eastern/The Basin), Ben Griffiths (Eastern/Mitcham), Jake Melksham (Calder/Oak Park), Jack Watts (Sandringham/East Sandringham), Tom Hill (Northern/Preston Bullants), Jackson Trengrove (Calder/Strathmore), Michael Hurley (Northern/Macleod), Tom Lynch (Sandringham/Hailebury College)

Western Australia - Kane Lucas (East Fremantle/Winnacott JFC), Clinton Garlett (Swan Districts), Kieran King (East Fremantle/Rossmoyne), Anthony Morabito (Peel Thunder/Harvey JFC), Michael Walters (Swan Districts/Midvale JFC)


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