PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Saints duo on track for AFL draft
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James Packer and Shaun Pukallus
For the first time this year, the next wave of Queensland AFL draft prospects laced up their boots for a QClash match between the Brisbane Lions and Gold Coast Suns Academies on Sunday.
Among those players were two South Burnett products, James Packer and Shaun Pukallus.
Both players are no strangers to the Academy system that has produced the likes of Harris Andrews and Eric Hipwood who have gone on to star in the AFL.
The Suns got the better of the Lions on this occasion, however James Packer who was bouncing off the half back line said he felt privileged and honoured to be part of such an awesome and rewarding program.
"The coaching, mentoring and development side of the program is of a very professional level," Packer said.
"I have been training fortnightly with the Academy for the past 6 weeks and we have now been fortunate enough to get some Academy games happening.
"I really appreciate having Shaun to train and play with, it's great playing with him and seeing him progress in his footy."
Packer's AFL career started back in 2014 when he represented Wide Bay while still playing rugby league at the time.
After thoroughly enjoying the Wide Bay carnival Packer joined the South Burnett Saints, going on to represent Queensland in the State Championships in Geelong the following year.
Packer's ability to pick apart football teams with his accurate left boot was noticed early on in his career, joining the Lions Academy back in 2015.
Running out alongside Packer on Sunday was Shaun Pukallus, another South Burnett footballer who has been on the radar of Academy selectors since 2018.
Pukallus said his mateship with Packer translates on to the field.
"I've really enjoyed playing alongside James since I was 12 and being able to progress this far with out footy has grown our bond, which translates to the footy field," Pukallus said.
"I love having the opportunity to play at that level because of the opportunities. You get noticed by AFL scouts and teams that could potentially draft you.
"It's been ever better being able to do it from such a rural area like Kingaroy.
"I hope that further on down the line when we both hopefully get drafted that, we can team up again."
Pukallus who rotated through the ruck for the Lions started playing footy over in Western Australia when he was ten years old, after a professional player visited his school.
Pukallus made the move across the country to Kingaroy where he currently plays for the South Burnett Saints.