Saints call Sam
By TANIA PHILLIPS
TERRANORA teenager Sam Gilbert starts his AFL career today, just 48-hours after being drafted by competition heavyweights St Kilda.
Gilbert, who only four years ago was still playing rugby league for the Bilambil Jets, flies out this morning and will start training with the resurgent Saints tomorrow.
The 19-year-old is one of two former Coolangatta-Tweed Blues juniors to be drafted in Saturday's AFL draft.
Wayde Mills, who played alongside Gilbert at the Blues before they both linked with Southport, will stay closer to home after being picked up by the Brisbane Lions.
Mills, who lives in Lennox Heads, was draft pick 25 while Gilbert's name came out a few minutes later at 33.
The pair follow in the footsteps of former Coolangatta-Tweed Blues player David Hale who became the 44-year old club's first AFL player after being drafted by the Kangaroos in 2001.
Gilbert had been hoping to go to a Melbourne club and said yesterday he was "stoked" to have been picked up by St Kilda.
"I can't wait to fly out tomorrow," he said.
"I start training on Tuesday. I don't know how long I will be down there at this stage."
While AFL is not in Gilbert's blood, being a Saint is. Both his grandfather Jack Gilbert and great grandfather Herb Gilbert played for the legendary St George rugby league club. His sporting pedigree runs deep with mother Sally a former South-East Queensland touch representative, father John won two premierships with the Bilambil Jets and his cousin Larry Davison plays with the Hunter Mariners in the National Basketball League and has just been selected for the Boomers.
While Gilbert was pleased he and Mills had been picked up by two of the top clubs - the Saints narrowly missed a grand final berth this year - he said it probably made breaking into the top team a bit more difficult.
"They're a good side, it will be tough to crack (the main team)," the 193cm (6'3"), 81kg defender said.
Mills will head to Brisbane during the week with his first training session scheduled next Monday.