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SUNS Academy duo set for ANZAC clash

SUNS TV: Male Academy Interview Connor and Ace speak to SUNS TV ahead of their trip to NZ.
It’s a great privilege to be representing your country and to be selected in something like that is a huge responsibility and it will be a great experience
Connor Budarick

Gold Coast SUNS Male Academy members Connor Budarick and Hewago Paul Oea (nicknamed Ace) will represent Australia next week when they play in a NAB Academy match against the senior New Zealand Hawks national side.

The two were selected as the only Queenslanders to play alongside the best Under 17 players in Australia in the one-off ANZAC clash on April 24 at Westpac Stadium.

Budarick and Ace are both Level 1 NAB Academy members, meaning they are bottom-agers and draft eligible in 2019.

“It’s a great privilege to be representing your country and to be selected in something like that is a huge responsibility and it will be a great experience,” Budarick told SUNS TV.

The six-day trip will in many ways mirror what the players may one day experience in the AFL when travelling as an away side.

“We’ll train three or four times during that week,” Budarick said.

“(We’ll) have some interviews with AFL clubs which will be a great experience and also working with the likes of Glen Jakovich, Nick Dal Santo and I think Travis Cloke as well.”

While the boys will be there for the main purpose of playing representative football, they will also be exposed to some ANZAC history with a trip to the War Museum and ANZAC Day dawn service included on the itinerary.

Ace was born in Papua New Guinea but has come in leaps and bounds since joining the SUNS Academy and moving to the Gold Coast.

“I started playing my first footy back at home with schoolboys U12s,” Ace told SUNS TV.

“I first represented PNG Binatangs in Under 14 (and) we went out to the Sunshine Coast to play against the SUNS, Sunshine Coast and North Queensland boys which was really tough.

“I did my best and now I’m here with the SUNS Academy boys and I’m feeling proud.”

For Budarick, who has been with the SUNS Academy for five years now, it’s an opportunity to show what he’s all about.

“I’ve been in the Academy since Under 12s so I’ve just gradually been working my way up through the age groups,” Budarick said.

“It’s come to the time where footy is starting to get much more serious now and I need to put the foot down and start showing what I’m good at and use my strengths.”