Corey Horsburgh's near miss with AFL.
Corey Horsburgh's near miss with AFL.

Red-headed Raider’s near-miss with AFL

Corey Horsburgh is the flame-haired forward that even most the ardent Raiders fan knew little of at the start of this year.

But to AFL club the Brisbane Lions, the six-foot-two talent from Caboolture is a name they have known since he was a teenager.

Selected as a 13-year-old in the Lions Academy Squad in 2012, Horsburgh played league for the Redcliffe Dolphins on Saturdays and Aussie rules with the Caboolture Lions on Sundays.

In an indication of his natural football talent, Horsburgh won two grand finals as a 15-year-old - for Aussie rules and league - in the same day.

In the morning, Horsburgh and the Caboolture Lions won AFL Brisbane Juniors Under-16 Division 2 title.

 

Horsburgh won grand finals in AFL and rugby league within three hours when he was 16. Photo: Brad Cooper
Horsburgh won grand finals in AFL and rugby league within three hours when he was 16. Photo: Brad Cooper

 

"He didn't get to celebrate with the team though because I got him off the field with five minutes to go so he could run on for his league grand final," Horsburgh's father, Rick, told The Daily Telegraph.

"He was cramping up in the second half of his grand final win with Redcliffe and the coach was wondering why.

"I said, 'Mate, this is his second grand final in a matter of hours'.''

Corey gave an indication of his future path when he was interviewed about his dual feat in 2014.

"League is my favourite. My family is all into league and I've played it since I was six," he said at the time.

LISTEN! In the season finale, Matty Johns is joined by James Hooper and Paul Kent to go over this Sunday's grand final, plus how the build-up to the NRL's biggest weekend can weigh on the favoured team (and how the Roosters are counteracting it!).

 

Naturally skilful at any sport he took up, including rugby union (where he played as an open-side flanker) and cricket (where he was a Sunshine Coast representative), Horsburgh was well aware of the Brisbane Lions interest.

Horsburgh was selected in the same academy squad that has since produced AFL graduates Jacob Allison, Eric Hipwood, Jack Payne, Tom Fullarton, Connor McFadyen and Corey Wagner.

"We've got five kids all up and we've always supported them. But with the boy, we had to do a bit more running around because he was good at every sport he took up," Rick, a prison guard, said.

 

Horsburgh, with dad Rick and mum Sandra.
Horsburgh, with dad Rick and mum Sandra.

 

"The Brisbane Lions wanted him when he was turning 14.

"They wanted us to get him there three or four times a week for training and camps, but we couldn't because of work.

"I could only take him once a month, but still, they would send him all the gear and they'd be always texting and emailing us to be part of their camps.

"It didn't matter what he played, he was always wanting to be an athlete.

"He could've done something with them (Lions) and he could've made it in rugby union too, but he always said; "Dad, I want to play rugby league."

 

There was only ever one path for this league lover. Photo: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
There was only ever one path for this league lover. Photo: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

 

The decision has paid dividends in a way that the Horsburgh family could never have predicted.

His rise from park football to ANZ Stadium on Sunday includes a brief stint at the North Queensland Cowboys in their under-20 squad before he signed with Canberra last year.

"I was into everything as a kid including AFL, which I didn't mind, but when I turned 16 I started playing rugby league only and that's when it all kicked off in the right direction," Horsburgh, 21, said.

"My goal was to play eight games this year, so to be here in a grand final is crazy."

 

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