May 27, 2019
Two former South Burnett Saints’ junior AFL players are now looking forward to the opportunity of donning maroon jerseys.
James Packer, from Hodgleigh, and Shaun Pukallus, from Kingaroy, have been selected in the Queensland squad for the national Under 16s NAB championship.
The teenagers both play for the Aspley Hornets AFL club in Brisbane, which means a lot of travelling back and forth for training and games.
Shaun, a ruckman, is in Year 12 at Kingaroy State High School while James, who plays in the backline, is in Year 11 at Nanango State High School.
Their journey to the Queensland squad began back in November when both tried out for the Lions Academy and were selected.
They have been training since then with the Academy in Brisbane.
In March, the teenagers took part in an AFLX carnival at Kawana on the Sunshine Coast which gave selectors the opportunity to view them in action.
(AFLX is a modified eight-a-side game.)
Under 16 footballers from across Brisbane, the Darling Downs, Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay competed in the carnival.
From this, three squads were selected: North Brisbane, South Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast to play in another round robin competition.
A final Lions Academy U16s was then picked.
This team then played a Gold Coast Suns Academy team to select the players for the State squad.
James and Shaun now have the opportunity of competing in the NAB competition with the first game being played in Sydney on June 23.
They both started their AFL careers with the Saints in Kingaroy: Shaun played U12s, U14s and U16s; while James played U14s.
Shaun told southburnett.com.au he was feeling good about being selected for Queensland.
“I will be able to showcase my talent against other teams from around Australia which I have been hoping to do for a while,” he said.