FORMER Murray Bridge footballer Jarrod Lienert is set to realise a life-long dream at Adelaide Oval on Sunday.
Lienert – a product of the Imperial Football Club junior program – will make his AFL debut when the Port Adelaide Power take on Greater Western Sydney.
The 193cm defender was selected by the Power with pick 42 in the 2017 Rookie Draft and impressed for the Port Adelaide Magpies in the SANFL before being upgraded to the senior list in August last year.
The Power recruited Lienert after his breakout year in 2016, which saw him win the Powerade Star Search Award as the SANFL’s brightest young talent while playing with the Sturt Football Club during the Double Blues’ premiership year.
Lienert returned to the SANFL grand final stage in 2017, this time with the Port Adelaide Football Club’s SANFL side, playing against his former Sturt premiership team-mates.
Lienert and the Magpies fell agonisingly short of premiership glory as the Double Blues went back-to-back, winning by just one point.
The son-of-a-gun followed in his dad’s footsteps; Jarrod’s father Brett played 134 games for Sturt and finished runner-up in Sturt Football Club’s 1989 league best and fairest to John Paynter, whose sons Seb and Will are currently playing in the River Murray league for Meningie.
Brett, who is a two-time River Murray Mail Medalist and a current RMFL umpire, said he looked forward to watching his son achieve one of his life-time goals on Sunday.
“I’m excited he is playing, it’s been a dream of his for a long time,” he said.
“After his draft year (following Jarrod’s State under 18 campaign), there was a couple years where the focus was getting a league game … I thought maybe it was off the radar.
“But his form at league level and his performances in the six weeks leading up to the (2016) grand final was a bit of turning point.”
Lienert will join fellow Imperial Football Club junior Chad Wingard in the Port Adelaide team who takes on the GWS Giants at Adelaide Oval on Sunday at 4.10pm.