No place like home for Lions' Hammelmann
MATT Hammelmann is one of a growing list of Lions who don't have to worry about battling homesickness.
The 20-year-old is a born-and-bred Brisbane boy, who has always barracked for the local outfit and idolised club great Jonathan Brown.
"I was a big Lions supporter,” he told Australian regional media. "Went to a fair few games growing up.”
Having been involved in the Lions Academy for five years, he was relieved when the club was able pounce on him in 2014.
"It was really good to be involved in the academy,” Hammelmann said.
"It obviously really helped my footy a lot, going through pre-seasons with them and getting to know what an AFL club is like.”
There were a few anxious moments, however, as he was overlooked in the national draft, before being taken at No.75 in the rookie draft.
"I was a little bit worried,” he recalled. "There was a few of us coming through (from the academy) in that year. (Liam) Dawson and (Harris) Andrews were nominated early on in the draft to go to the Lions.”
Having been upgraded to the senior list, Hammelmann is now soaking up being part of the Lions' senior outfit.
Being a part of a win in his fourth game was the icing on the cake for the Morningside recruit.
Ahead of tonight's clash with Port Adelaide at the Gabba, Hammelmann said: "There's a bit to improve on going into this week, but hopefully we can get a hold of them and get another win.”
The 197cm key-position player will be one of seven home-grown Queenslanders in the side, alongside fellow 2014 academy graduates Andrews and Dawson, and Ben Keays and Eric Hipwood from the 2015 class.
A 2013 draftee from Mt Gravatt, Archie Smith, will also make his long-awaited debut in place of resting ruckman Stefan Martin, while Dayne Zorko is the old stager.
"Hopefully it just keeps improving from here and we get more kids involved,” Hammelmann said as league chief executive Gill McLachlan was in town for an AFL Commission meeting.
A forward, Hammelmann - who has had a tough initiation to senior footy - was sent down back from debut to play on the likes of red-hot Sun Peter Wright.
"I haven't played back for a lot of my career, but every week you learn something different,” he said. "It's good to try new positions.”
Hammelmann has been named up forward for tonight's clash though and will make the most of the chance if it does eventuate.
He will call on the advice from his hero Brown.
"Early on in my first year he was around ... and helped me out a fair bit.”
Hammelmann said Brown put an emphasis on "body work”.
"He used it so well,” he said. "He never seemed to get beaten in a one-on-one contest.”
Sam Skinner was to be another Lion to debut tonight but the 19-year-old from Victoria hyperextended his knee at training on Thursday and was ruled out yesterday.
Skinner, who ruptured the ACL on the same knee last season, was to have scans.
"It's a very emotional time for Sam and all of us really,” coach Justin Leppitsch said.
"We're hopeful it's nothing more than just a minor setback.”