Tamborine teenager is an AFL star on the rise

Rising Sun: Tamborine Teenager Lleyton Cottrell is enjoying his time as part of the Gold Coast Suns Academy program. Photo: Joshua Paterson
Rising Sun: Tamborine Teenager Lleyton Cottrell is enjoying his time as part of the Gold Coast Suns Academy program. Photo: Joshua Paterson

Remember the name Lleyton Cottrell, all going to plan the Tamborine teenager may just be lining up for your favourite AFL club in a few years.

2017 has been a successful year for the 190cm 15-year-old, having made the South Coast Schools’ team which will play at state titles in Maroochydore next month and getting to join his Southport Sharks club teammates in the Gold Coast Suns academy after being selected in October 2016.

After starring as part of a Gold Coast North talent squad team to gain selection the Rivermount College student said he loves being apart of the Suns Academy after an injured ankle initially kept him from training, adding the academy is the first step towards his dream of being drafted to an AFL club.

“I want to make the under 16s academy team and then make level three in a couple more years, there is three levels in the academy, level one is 12s and 13s and they just go every holidays for four or five hours, and then level two is once every week or twice a week, and there is two divisions in that 15s and 16s, and 16s is where you actually get to play games, 15s is just training,” he said.

“Level three is a lot more, it’s three times a week and there is games and training and travel for games and then you can get drafted from level three because you’re looked at more.”

Cottrell said the Suns Academy has allowed him to come along in leaps and bounds as a player.

“They give very good coaching, they do rehab when we need it because they know all about our training and our games, and there’s new facilities across the road, sometimes if it’s raining as it has been the last few weeks we go in there and get education on the game itself and they are starting to let us use the facilities as well,” he said.

The versatile player said he enjoys playing at ruck and at full forward but his preference is in the middle.

“I like playing ruck that’s my favourite position, it is now because I have more height than most of the other players, there’s only one other guy as tall as me, but I like ruck because I get more hands on the footy and I get to try different stuff,” he said.

Cottrell first started playing aussie rules in Jimboomba before giving up the sport to focus on tennis, but a desire to return to a team sport and a good friend brought him back to the sport.

“I played under 8s and 9s when I was little with Jimboomba Redbacks and I didn’t want to tackle so I didn’t play, so I went and played tennis for four years at Beenleigh Tennis Club, I was doing alright there but I just got bored and lonely playing tennis and my brother was playing AFL and my dad always played AFL and I thought maybe I should give it a go,” he said.

“A friend from school, we’d kick the footy everyday, he said maybe you should come join our club Southport Sharks, so I did (in under 13s) and we won the premiership that year and I kicked four goals in the premiership game.”

Set to play his first club game this weekend for Southport Sharks under 16s against Burleigh Bombers Cottrell was confident his team were a QAFL under 16s premiership contender.

“I think we’re going to have a pretty good year because we have a lot of strong players who are in the academy, we’ve got the club that has the most academy players in it, we train a lot together and know each other very well,” he said.

Keeping his future front of mind Cottrell has taken up a school based apprenticeship in carpentry as a fall back plan should his footballing dreams not pan out.

“I like it because dad is a builder and I work with dad and I’ve worked with dad since I was seven, I find it easy and entertaining and time flies when I’m doing it.”