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Checkout Full Season Preview Here

JUST six days remain until Queensland’s premier local footballers take the field again for another season of the QAFL. Round 1 will kick off with a grand final rematch on Saturday at Graham Road between reigning premiers Aspley — who most of the league’s captains and coaches are predicting to be the team to beat — and 2021 premier Broadbeach.

As we wait for the season to begin, the Gold Coast Bulletin sports team has broken down every team for season 2023, including list changes, players to watch.

Each teams captain or coach has already revealed who they expect to see in the grand final, along with their pick for the Grogan Medal.

Check it out below.

Aspley Hornets

Head coach: Daniel Webster

Captain: Brandon Batchelor and James Nelis

2022 result: 1

After a season in the VFL in 2021, the Aspley Hornets made the tough decision to withdraw from the competition to focus on state league football. And didn’t they do so, taking home the premiership against league favourites and undefeated Broadbeach.

Despite the challenge to go back-to-back, Webster said there was “no pressure” on his side.

“We don’t talk about last year,” he said. “As far as we’re concerned, we’re focused on winning this year’s premiership, like every year. We’re all working hard because we want to win, simple as that.” Of their new signings includes Brisbane Lions VFL listed and former Essendon VFL player Lockie Rayner, the brother of Lion Cam Rayner. Ex-Lion Jono Freeman comes back into the side after spending time with Noosa. Joining him is Tom Templeton (who plays the same role as Ryan Banks-Smith) and Tom Jeffery (also from Noosa).

The club loses Finbar Delbridge (work in Newcastle) and Lachy Harrick (retired to move into coaching with the Aspley Colts).

Player to watch:

· Coen Harker: A natural talent in just his third year of senior football. The former Pine Rivers player spent time in half forward in 2022, and was coined as the best finals player in 2022 by Webster. He’s still raw, but his development is exponential.

Biggest win: Continuity. Retaining a majority of their key players, the Hornets should look similar to 2022, if not with more confidence and cohesion than last year.

Biggest loss: Losing Grogan Medallist Ryan Banks-Smith has to be the biggest loss if they don’t find a way to fill that role quickly.

Aspley Hornets coach Daniel Webster is expecting to see Broadbeach in the grand final.

Coach’s predictions

Assuming your club makes the grand final, who do you expect to play off against?: Broadbeach

Who wins the Grogan medal?: Not sure, hopefully from Aspley.

Broadbeach Cats

Head coach: Craig O’Brien

Captains: Josh Searl and Lucas Jellyman-Turner

2022 result: 2

Broadbeach Cats senior coach Craig O'Brien at training. Picture: Glenn Hampson

Playing in the last three grand finals, Broadbeach will no doubt be up there again. Broadbeach are another team that has done well with recruiting, welcoming former Southport Shark and new playing assistant coach Jacob Townsend, Seaford best and fairest Joel Filippone — along with runner-up Seaford B & F Ishak Bashir — and WAFL players Reid Polak and Kasey Nicholas. But, it can’t be overlooked that the Cats lost one game in 2022, and it was the one that mattered. “We definitely talk about it (the grand final loss),” O’Brien said. “We got it right for most of the year and we got it wrong on the most important day … But it makes us come back hungry. The year before we tasted the ultimate success and the year after we felt the ultimate disappointment so we’re back better than ever.”

Players to watch:

· Jacob Townsend: Premiership player at Richmond, ex-Southport Shark, moved down to the QAFL so focus on his career outside of AFL.

· Kasey Nicholas: Centre half back WAFL player of the year for 2022, really good leader, good size.

· Joel Filippone: Seaford best and fairest.

Biggest win: According to O’Brien, the Cats’ biggest win ahead of 2023 has been off the field with a refurbishment of the sports club. O’Brien believes the new facilities will finally allow the club to host functions and B & F nights, only creating more of a buzz for supporters and players alike.

Biggest loss: Lost Michael Selsby as he moves to Victoria to play with Werribee in the VFL.

Coach’s predictions

Assuming your club makes the grand final, who do you expect to play off against?: Aspley

Who wins the Grogan medal?: Kasey Nicholas

Redland Victoria-Point Sharks

Head coach: Phil Carse

Captain: Mitch Stallard and Scott Miller

2022 result: 3

Coach Phil Carse said there’s excitement and hunger among the group ahead of the season. Coming so close last season, expect the Sharks to go deeper in all parts of their game, particularly their midfield lead by Caleb Franks and Brock Aston.

“It’s been a really positive pre-season for us, we kicked off back in November, all the boys are really excited about it,” Carse said.

“We knew we were pretty close last year, we only missed out on the grand final by a couple of goals to Apsley. It’s a really competitive top end of the QAFL.”

Former Brisbane Lions player Reuben Williams is one to watch in 2023. (Photo by Matt Roberts/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Players to watch:

· Reuben Williams: A former Redland NEAFL player and previous Brisbane Lions AFL player, with VFL experience at Footscray and Williamstown.

· Luke O’Sullivan: Comes from joint duties at Mt Gravatt and the Brisbane Lions VFL program.

· Tyler Hausfeld: Returns to the side after having the last three years off with injury concerns, but has been impressive in the pre-season and should prove versatile in half forward and midfield.

Biggest win: Recruiting Williams and O’Sullivan has been massive. The Sharks have also strengthened their coaching ranks with Tom Salter moving from the playing group into the coaching group.

Biggest loss: A few players have left the Sharks camp, including Matt Waters returns to Kenmore in the QFA due to work commitments, small forward Matt Warren departed for Tasmania for career opportunity as a maritime engineer. Kailem Baker departs for Wilston Grange.

Coach’s predictions

Assuming your club makes the grand final, who do you expect to play off against? Aspley

Who wins the Grogan medal?: Caleb Franks

Palm Beach Currumbin Lions

Head coach: TBA

Captains: Tom Thynne and Jon Croad

2022 result: 4

QAFL captain Jon Croad (Palm Beach) . pic Lyndon Mechielsen/Courier Mail

The bolter for 2023 has to be Palm Beach Currumbin. And how they tackle the news of coach Sean Millane’s abrupt resignation just over a week out from the season opener will define their season.

Luckily for them, they have 169-game St Kilda player David Armitage to step into the role while a replacement is named, along with a stacked line-up of former AFL, VFL and QAFL guns.

New signings include: former AFL defender and 241-game player for Melbourne, Hawthorn and St Kilda, James Frawley; ex North Melbourne player Marcus White; former VFL player Christian Buykx-Smith; SANFL premiership player Carl Nicholson; 2019 Grogan Medallist Frazer Neate and returning player Jon Croad.

“Our recruits have been exactly what we needed from last year,” Thynne said.

“We had a good, young list last year and we’ve recruited the exact positions we needed, some older heads, some bigger player, we filled the gaps we needed las year.

“We’re here to win a premiership.”

Players to watch:

· Carl Nicholson: Comes across Glenelg in the SANFL, premiership player there.

Biggest win: Their signing ability.

Biggest loss: Obviously the loss of a head coach so close to the season is unideal. For any club this would be tricky to navigate, but particularly so as Millane was new in 2023. It will be a huge credit to the Lions if they can overcome this. The club also lost Liam Jones who returned to the Western Bulldogs in the AFL after a season out due to the Covid vaccination policy, and Will Bella to the VFL, whose position will be filled by Croad.

Captain’s predictions

Assuming your club makes the grand final, who do you expect to play off against?: Aspley

Who wins the Grogan Medal?: Seth Rogers

Labrador Tigers

Head coach: Clint Watts

Captain: Matt Lee and Jayden Young

2022 result: 5 (tied)

Clint Watts thought he would be coaching at Morningside forever, but a change in tide will see him lead the Tigers in 2023. Grateful for the opportunity to remain in the QAFL, Watts said he isn’t trying to “reinvent the wheel” at the Tigers, but instead trying to turn some of last season’s close losses into wins.

“My first thought was how hard they train and the leadership group really drive that and hold each other accountable for their training standards,” Watts said.

“For me coming in, we’ve more so just talked about trying to turn some of those close losses into wins, rather than thinking about where they finished on the ladder. Refining small things.”

Players to watch:

· Tom Simpson: He sets the standard for the group, incredible pre-season, strong performances in the practice matches.

· Matt Lee: A highly professional player in the midfield.

Biggest win: Signing key forward and former North Melbourne listed player Ben Hughes. Hughes has been coaching his own team in Country Victoria, shows great leadership and is aggressive.

Biggest loss: Premiership captain, 2022 runner up best and fairest and club legend Bryce Retzlaff has retired after the 2022 season. The 2022 QAFL team of the year member was a key cog for the Tigers. Former Sharks captain, NEAFL premiership player and 3-season Sun Andrew Boston has also retired.

Coach’s predictions

Assuming your club makes the grand final, who do you expect to play off against?: Aspley

Who wins the Grogan Medal?: Kelly Castle or Tom Simpson

Noosa Tigers

Head coach: Chris Rourke

Captain: Seb Rogers

2022 result: 5 (tied)

Last season was Rourke’s first with the Tigers with the side scraping in the finals in just their second year in the competition. A massive turnover of players has left the Tigers “starting from scratch” but Rourke has no qualms around the side being a competitive force in 2023.

QAFL captain Seb Rogers (Noosa), . pic Lyndon Mechielsen/Courier Mail

Players to watch:

· Aaron Laskey: plays in the middle and is always an important cog for Noosa with his top leadership skills and strong use of his body.

· Aaron Wilson: up at full forward too. Really found his groove at the back end of last season and will no doubt hope to continue that form in 2023.

· Wil O’Dwyer: The youngster has played as an on-baller in pre-season and seems to have taken some big steps ahead of arguably his biggest season yet. The 21-year-old was a bolter in the best and fairest ranks last year.

Biggest win: A proper pre-season hurt the Tigers in 2022 with Rourke, some of the wider coaching staff and new recruits only arriving at the club a few weeks out from round one. This season, Rourke and his key off-season signings, have arrived with months to spare and it’s given the side a proper camp and training block to start the season.

Biggest loss: Player turnover has been one of the biggest talking points in the Tigers off-season with the majority of last season’s team waving goodbye. With the borders opening a handful of players have jetted off overseas and a number of former recruits have headed back to Victoria, including fan favourite Tom Baulch.

Coach’s predictions

Assuming your club makes the grand final, who do you expect to play off against?: “Obviously Broadbeach and Aspley are very good but then you hear that all the other sides have improved as well like Morningside have gotten really strong.”

Who wins the Grogan Medal?: “I’d maybe land on Mitch Robinson, he’ll certainly make an impact. It’s great for the competition to have someone like him come back and play.”

Maroochydore Roos

Head coach: Ben Jones

Captain: Josh Govan

2022 result: 7

After an ever so close fairytale run from sixth to make the grand final in 2021, the Roos appointed a new head coach in Ben Jones last season. The Roos missed the finals by just two wins in 2022 and the aim for this season is simple: “get back into the finals”.

“To make the top six and be one of the better teams in the comp (is the goal), which we think we can achieve, and in finals you get a free run at it and can play with a bit of freedom,” Jones said.

“We’d love to be in the top four, we think we’ve got the squad there but I think the whole competition will improve again so hard to tell until those first four odd rounds.”

Maroochydore Roos QAFL players Mitch Scholand, Josh Govan and Josh Wagner. Picture: Eddie Franklin.

Players to watch:

· Josh Wagner: A real top end talent who comes to the Roos with 40 AFL matches under his belt for the Melbourne Demons. Has been a driving force in the pre-season with his class and urgency to improve the team a key factor.

· Lukas Kangur: Was solid last season and has got himself in fantastic shape and form in the pre-season.

· Liam Jacka: Has been at the club previously before a stint away but has returned in top order and is primed for a really big year.

· Mitch Scholard: Always a key factor for the Roos and looks fitter than ever before round one.

Biggest win: Jones said the teams biggest two wins heading into 2023 was through their new strength and conditioning coach, Chris Turner, and the overall senior player retention from last season, signing 23 of their top 25 players.

“Chris has put a lot of work into the boys physically but also teaching them about their bodies, the importance of recovery and hopefully the effort he’s put in helps injury prevention throughout the year,” Jones said.

Biggest loss: The Roos said goodbye to just two players at the end of last season in Lochie Laing and Jake Warren who have taken the plunge to play in country Victoria.

Coach’s predictions

Assuming your club makes the grand final, who do you expect to play off against?: “Probably the top three or four teams from last year I expect to be the same again. I think Aspley will be right up there, I think Broadbeach are always strong and have recruited well again, Redlands too so I’d say probably out of those three. But you look at other clubs that have recruited really well too like Palm Beach.”

Who wins the Grogan Medal?: “I’d love one of our boys to win it, Josh Wagner, Sam Mclachlan but I think Will Martin from Wilston Grange is going to be a really good pick up for them this year. He’s just come out of an AFL system, is a good player that’s probably capable of playing at a higher level but has decided to stick to the QAFL this season so I’d say he’d be a really strong candidate.”

Maroochydore Roos senior QAFL head coach Ben Jones. Picture: Eddie Franklin

Wilston Grange Gorillas

Head coach: Brent Moloney

Captains: Matt Eagles and Kailem Baker

2022 result: 8

QAFL captain Matt Eagles (Wilston Grange) . pic Lyndon Mechielsen/Courier Mail

The Gorillas are after bigger things in 2023.

And co-captain Baker said he wouldn’t “take anything less” than a finals appearance in 2023.

“I think we’re definitely knocking on the door for finals and I don’t think we’ll take anything less,” he said. “The standard we’ve got set for the club this year is very high.”

Recruiting has been a focus for the squad coming into the new season, according to Eagles.

“We wanted to recruit some mature footballers like Bakes (Kailem Baker), getting some quality players in with a mature head to help our younger players develop not only as footy players and as people,” Eagles said.

“We haven’t had to change the game plan or anything, just build on (last year). We’ve tried to keep a lid on things and tried not to get too excited, but come Round 1 we’re pretty excited to rip in.”

Players to watch:

· Will Martyn: A NEAFL premiership player, 3-game AFL player and Richmond VFL B & F in 2021.

· Kailem Baker: An experience player with experience at the NEAFL level with Redland, and a former Redland Victoria-Point stalwart.

· Ned Rosenbrock: Young Marist College athlete who has been with the squad for a few years now. The small forward and inside bull has been gaining more and more confidence over the pre-season. Expect a breakout year.

· Jack Campbell: Former NEAFL player with more than 100 senior games experience and a 5 x Sydney AFL Premier Division Team of the Year member.

New recruit Kailem Baker is one to watch for Wilston Grange. pic Lyndon Mechielsen/Courier Mail

Biggest win: Signing Will Martyn. Martyn comes with previous playing experience at the Gorillas in his junior days and will add experience to the squad.

Captain’s predictions

Assuming your club makes the grand final, who do you expect to play off against?: Redlands

Who wins the Grogan Medal?: Will Martyn

Morningside Panthers

Head coach: Paul Egan

Captain: Bill Pendlebury & Darcy Cameron-Reeves

2022 result: 9

With four wins and 14 losses for the 2022, the Morningside Panthers will get a fresh start with former midfield coach Paul Egan at the helm. A junior clubbie himself, the former NEAFL assistant coach has been at the club over 30 years.

Egan said his focus has been on “gelling the team together”, getting them to enjoy each others company and improve cohesion both on and off the field. “They weren’t happy with the (2022) season,” Egan said. “When you win four or five games it’s not too flash, but they came back early and ready to go. They’ve been able to bring back other guys that haven’t been at the club for a while. “There’s no ceiling on how much improvement can be achieved. ‘Why not?’ is our question.”

Players to watch:

· Jimmy Cowlishaw: Missed the 2022 season as he recovered from a shoulder reconstruction, back for 2023, premiership player, good as new.

· Kelly Castle: Didn’t play the last 6 games for 2022 while out with a long term injury, but he’s looking fitter than ever and lightning quick.

· Mitch Robinson: 247-AFL gamer with the Brisbane Lions and Carlton.

Biggest win: Singing recently delisted Brisbane Lions player Mitch Robinson. Robinson is the club’s marquee singing who will no doubt drive performance and also club support. The Panthers will also be bolstered in their coaching ranks by the addition of offensive coach Wylie Buzza, a long time VFL player. Ex-Lion Mitch Robinson is set to be one of the biggest names in the QAFL for 2023. (Photo by Russell Freeman/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Biggest loss: The Panthers have lost two 2020 premiership players in Nathan Colenso and Toby Triffett (Williamstown VFL).Jake Chapman has moved across to Redlands.

Coach’s predictions

Assuming your club makes the grand final, who do you expect to play off against?

Surfers Paradise Demons

Head coach: Matt Lappin

Captain: Harrison Fraser

2022 result: 10

Headed up by AFL great and former Southport assistant coach Matt Lappin, who played over 250 games for Carlton and St Kilda, the Demons will be looking to improve by bounds in 2023. Lappin admitted they were “disappointed” and “frustrated” with their result of 10th, so expect big things come Round 1 after a tough pre-season.

“The first week I was appointed as coach I grabbed all of last year’s leaders and we had a chat about what went wrong and why it went wrong, and we tabled all that information,” Lappin said.

“Fitness, recruiting, culture, we’ve been working really hard on that for the past four months.

“The team won a premiership in 2019 … (but in 2023) mostly the players weren't available for a number of reasons because of injury etc, and once they got off to a bad start they checked out a little so it’s about being fitter and more resilient.”

“My expectations is we’ll play finals. If we do all the work, we’ll get what we deserve. I’ve got a belief in footy that we’ll get what you deserve.”

Players to watch:

· Jack Prestegar: Returturning after a year off, the 2019 flag player has been in defence all his life but Lappin’s moved him into the midfield for 2023. He’s “a bit of a club hero”, who gives everything he can to the club.

· Brodie Haberfield: Missed the 2022 season with injury, but has come back into the mix after seeing what the club was doing. Plays key back, is a fierce competitor, hates losing a content, can easily kick a ball 70m.

· Billy Beardsell: Built like a jockey but he’s “brave” and puts his body on the line. He’s a highlight reel forward, can kick goals from anywhere, but also plays at half back. Adam Saad type player.

Matt Lappin is set to reinvigorate the Demons after a lacking season.

Biggest win: Signing Matt Lappin. His intent — and experience — is clear. He helped lead Southport to a grand final appearance, but also has experience at grassroots level coaching Hillcrest Christian College. Another win is the return of premiership player Jack Prestegar, who had 2022 off football due to work commitments.

Coach’s predictions

Assuming your club makes the grand final, who do you expect to play off against?: Aspley

Who wins the Grogan medal?: Harrison Fraser

Mt Gravatt Vultures

Heach coach: Tony Lynn

Captain: Jonah Licht

2022 result: 11

QAFL captain Jonah Licht (Mt Gravatt) . pic Lyndon Mechielsen/Courier Mail

The Vultures have retained their relatively young squad, but managed to add some older heads around the group within their coaching ranks and a few new recruits.

Noting this, captain Jonah Licht said the side aren’t putting too many expectations on themselves on the field, but instead putting a big focus on getting a “positive culture” right.

“This year we’re building as well, we’ve got quite a young list,” Licht said.

“The biggest thing we’re trying to build at the club is a good culture, a positive culture, because I think we lacked that a bit the last few years. That would be our biggest win for the year if we can get that (culture right).

“This year, it’s more about improving on last season. We’ve got some new recruits from Div 1 who are a bit older, and we’ve got some new additions in our coaching group, some older heads.”

Supporting head coach Lynn will be former club captain and premiership player Troy Moncur, ex-players Damien Hewitt and Tobi Spencer.

Players to watch:

· Teejay Halkias: Midfielder from South Australia, has played for Port Adelaide in the SANFL and with the Southern Eagles in the Yorke Peninsula FL in 2019.

· Ben and Jacob Costa: 20-year-old Ben is a midfielder/half forward, comes with experience in Division 1 and with Surfers Paradise in the QAFL. Jacob is a tough, left-footer from South Morang in melbourne. Plays wing and half back.

Biggest win: The return of some familiar figureheads to the team. The squad have also picked up a new manager who has already improved the organisation and culture around the club according to Licht.

Biggest loss: Luke O’Sullivan moves to Redland Victoria-Point. The teams best midfielder in 2022, O’Sullivan will be a hard hole to fill.

Captain’s predictions

Assuming your club makes the grand final, who do you expect to play off against?: Aspley

Who wins the Grogan Medal?: Brock Aston

Sherwood Magpies

Head coach: Jarad Marsh

Captain: Will Fletcher

2022 result: 12

QAFL captain William Fletcher (Sherwood) . pic Lyndon Mechielsen/Courier Mail

2022’s wooden-spooners are aiming to “grow and develop” over the upcoming season. New coach Jarad Marsh, who has signed on for the next three years, is hoping to use his first year to develop his existing base of players in their rebuilding phase.

“We’ve got a fairly young squad with a lot of talent, but they lack experience because our average age is one the youngest in the QAFL if not the youngest,” Marsh said, of his squad of roughly early twenties players.

“I haven’t set any overly quantifiable goals, it’s more about giving the group the opportunity to learn and grow and develop, and win more games than last year. It’s all about development.”

Players to watch:

· Toara Marango: Young defender, still in early twenties so plenty to learn and develop.

· Will Fletcher: 2+ B & Fs, previously aligned with the Lions but full-time with Sherwood for 2022.

· Riley Easton: Missed most of 2022 with injury, he’s back into the group. Plays forward midfield.

Biggest win: Some good signings should boost the Magpies. Former captain and premiership player Lachlan Woods comes back into the woods to bring experience into the side, along with North Melbourne Brisbane Lions VFL footballer Patrick McCarthy, and Jayden Shea, who comes with experience in the VFL, NTFL, GVFL and NGFL.

Biggest loss: Lack of experience. The young side will likely need a few more years under the belt before they can be competing with the top teams, but this underdog status could take teams by surprise if they don’t give them full respect.

Assuming your club makes the grand final, who do you expect to play off against?: Aspley

Who wins the Grogan medal?: Caleb Franks

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