Q&A: Tom Gillett (Lions Academy)

BRISBANE Lions Academy tall Tom Gillett is one of Queensland’s leading AFL Draft prospects for 2024, boasting great mobility and versatility at 201cm. The 18-year-old enters his top-age campaign with high level representative experience and hopes to build on it as a more imposing ruck-forward. We chatted to him during last week’s preseason testing event in Brisbane.

>> TOP 5s: Lions & Suns Academy preseason testing

Q&A: Tom Gillett

Q: Tom, you’ve had some good opportunities coming through as a bottom-ager, so walk me through a few of your highlights so far.

A: Obviously last year I was fortunate enough to play in the Futures match before the (AFL) Grand Final, which is unreal to play against some of the best of this year’s draft. So that was a wonderful experience. Playing Coates League last year I got a taste of what’s to come as an under-ager, so it should hold me in good stead for this year.

Q: How’s preseason been, where have you split your time?

A: Mainly I’m just training with the (Lions) Academy three nights a week and just really focusing and building my body. Obviously being a tall you need to be big and strong. I’m working on my tank as well just to be as fit as possible, and now building into the season getting a lot of touch in and those sort of things. I’ve been working pretty hard and pretty keen.

Q: Have you had an Allies camp as well?

A: We had one a few weeks ago down Sydney which was good. It’s not the final team at the moment, but just to see who’s around and some possible teammates. It’s definitely good to see what the highest level is, I’m looking forward to it.

Q: Do you expect to primarily play ruck this year, or to rotate forward as well?

A: A bit of both to be honest. Probably first preference would be ruck at the moment, I love getting in the middle. You’re around the footy more often which is always good. But I honestly like to keep it pretty 50-50 with forward as well. I’ve grown up mainly a forward but being a bit taller now, I’ve moved into the ruck a bit more.

Q: What are some of the strengths in your game?

A: My best is probably just my athleticism, being able to compete in the air and then follow up at ground level. I like to think of myself as a bit of a fourth midfielder and get my hands on the footy on the deck and then in the air as well.

Q: Have you had any directive from the Lions in terms of players to mould your game on?

A: Obviously in particular from the Lions, probably someone like a Joe Daniher. Big Oscar McInerney‘s down at training here and there. He’s done some work with me for my marking and contest work, so that’s always good to link in with them. They’re obviously at the highest level. I’d say all those talls at the Lions, pretty much all of them are trying to help me in some way which is good.

Q: Have you had any other key mentors on and off the field?

A: I’d say in particular Mitch Hahn. He’s the head coach, he’s been working pretty close with me. I’m a pretty laidback, quiet guy and he’s trying to get me a bit more aggressive which is what you need as a tall, so I’m loving that and trying to really work on that. It’s been really good for me.

Q: What kind of goals have you set up for this year?

A: Obviously the main goal would be to get drafted and play AFL footy. Short-term it’s just to have a really consistent year for the Lions and hopefully build in to play Allies and just have a good consistent year all-round. I’m not trying to overthink it, being present at the moment.

>> Q&A: Leonardo Lombard (Suns Academy)

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