A growing pride of Lions

Former Lions junior players Josh Goater (left) and Cody Brand after a game for Essendon in the VFL. (Supplied)

By Oliver Lees

The Sunbury Lions are hopeful that yet another young prospect from the club will find their way onto an AFL list.

Eighteen-year-old Lions product Josh Goater has been selected for the 2021 NAB AFL National Draft Combine, where the best young players from across the country are put through a series of trials to impress AFL recruiters.

Goater played junior and senior football at the Lions while juggling commitments with the Calder Cannons, Vic Metro and a single game in the VFL for the Bombers.

Earlier this year, Goater was able to play three senior matches with the Lions alongside his older brother Luke, before the NAB League season began.

Sunbury Lions senior men’s coach Travis Hodgson said Goater showed all the elements of an AFL ready player.

“He’s got all the traits you want, he’s so competitive and so fearless coming up playing against full grown men,” Hodgson said.

“He wasn’t just a kid having a run around in the seniors, he was important.

“The physical capabilities are not hard to find with Josh. But what impressed me was him coming up to senior footy and playing against some decent players much older than him.

“That suggests to me he’s got the right mindset for it.”

In the Lions round two match against Melton, Goater was named as Sunbury’s second best on ground.

At 190 centimetres, Hodgson said Goater’s athleticism paired with his ball skills makes him a handy versatile option for a coach.

During his brief stint in the Lions’ senior side, he was thrown forward, back and even had a brief stint in the ruck.

“His best game for us was in the half back but he can play anywhere, he’s got that ability that is pretty rare,” Hodgson said.

“Whether playing inside or outside, he’s hard enough to win the ball but also has explosive pace on the outside. Also with his aerial strength,and really good foot skills he can hurt you going forward.

“He’s a very hard match up.”

Playing for the Cannons this season Goater has averaged 24 disposals, two tackles and five marks across seven games.

If selected by and AFL in the National Draft in November, Goater will join Lions talent Lachlan Bramble as the most recent Lions talent to make the grade.

Earlier this year Bramble’s dream of playing AFL became a reality, when the 22-year-old was given an opportunity to train with Hawthorn and ultimately landed a rookie contract.

Bramble played 10 games this year in a breakout season where he averaged 18 disposals and two tackles per game.

Former Lions junior player Cody Brand is another recent Sunbury success story.

Brand was taken with pick 53 by Essendon in the 2020 draft.

“We see ourselves as the premier club in the area and we pride ourselves on nurturing and developing talent,” Hodgson said.

“The recent drafting of Lachie Bramble and Cody Brand only reinforces that and we are hoping that Josh will join them at AFL level.”