Bruce Reville in action for Brisbane during 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

NO MATTER how many setbacks, frustrations or roadblocks Bruce Reville hit in his journey to the AFL, there was no way Brisbane's latest crowd favourite wasn't seeing it through.

Literally travelling a road longer than most to make it, Reville drove four hours each way to attend training as a teenager, turned his back on other sports, was repeatedly overlooked in national drafts and overcame injury to make it.

He also worked full-time jobs cutting meat at an abattoir and driving a forklift at Bunnings before bursting on to the AFL stage for the Lions eight matches ago at the age of 23.

Reville's story is one of dedication and persistence, but underpinning it all was a promise to a long-time friend before they lost a battle with cancer.

The Sharman family were an integral part of Reville's upbringing, taking him into their Burrum Heads home between the ages of nine to 12, while his dad – also named Bruce – worked two hours west to earn money.


Josh Sharman was Bruce's best mate. Mother Julie drove them to any and every sporting event they could get to. And dad Lenny was there to kick a footy or do whatever the boys wanted or needed.

"The Sharman family was incredible for me," Reville told

"I pretty much played every sport I wanted to; athletics, swimming, rugby, Australian Rules, soccer, all at the same time.

"It was only due to them I got the exposure to trial all those sports. Having that balance definitely helped develop those traits that have helped me reach some level of success now.

Bruce Reville and teammates after the round eight match between Brisbane and Gold Coast at The Gabba, May 5, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"They did so much for me. I just can't get across how good they were."

Lenny was an inspiration, a man that worked that many hours to "make sure we got whatever we wanted".

That's why when he passed away in Reville's 19th year, Lenny's words continued to ring loud.

"The last time I spoke to him he made me promise I'd see it out until the end, and that was a big reason I stuck with it for so long.

"He was the biggest believer in me from the start.

"He made us kick on both feet when we were kids. Me and Josh would kick all afternoon in the backyard.


"People say kicking on both sides is my best skill and I dedicate that to him."

That may have been the promise that drove Reville to "see it out" in the past few years, but it's never been an easy path for the man born in Papua New Guinea.

His family moved to the North Queensland city of Cairns when he was four years old, and then even further south three years later to Burrum Heads.

The small beachside town is situated about four hours north of Brisbane in the Wide Bay region.

Like many youngsters in Queensland, he grew up playing rugby league. Look at his rugged tackling and physical play today and it's easy to see why he was strong in the 13-a-side code.

But upon meeting Josh and the Sharmans, he had a run for the Burrum Joeys, a tiny Australian Rules club that subsequently folded, and then on to the Maryborough Bears where he finished his junior days.

Bruce Reville with fans after the round eight match between Brisbane and Gold Coast at the Gabba on May 5, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

It was at the age of 15 that things would take a twist for Reville.

Not only was he already identified by the Lions Academy, but he won the Troy Clarke Scholarship, named after the former Brisbane Bears player and respected AFL Queensland game development manager who passed away in 2013.

The scholarship was designed to support a young player from regional Queensland who displayed the same core values, such as dedication, passion and respect, that Clarke embodied throughout his life.

They're traits that Reville still carries to this day.

Kurt Tippett presented the scholarship to the quietly-spoken teenager that provided him with some much-needed funds to pursue his Australian Rules dreams.

After making the Queensland under-16 team and having his heart set on becoming as good as he possibly could, Reville committed to getting to Brisbane to train twice a week for eight weeks.

Bruce Reville during the VFL round 21 match between Brisbane and Williamstown at Brighton Homes Arena, August 12, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

His father would pick him up from Hervey Bay State High School at lunch time and they'd commence the four-hour drive south.

"It was the weirdest period of my life," Reville recalled.

"I was playing league, union and everything for school. I was being asked to join schools to play union. I was at a crossroads with my sport.

"When the Lions contacted me and then I won the (Troy Clarke) Scholarship, it made things pretty clear for me.

"Dad wanted me to have the best opportunity I could to make it to the AFL.

Bruce Reville during the round 16 match between Brisbane and Melbourne at The Gabba, on June 28, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"We decided if we were going to do it, this is what had to be done.

"He'd pick me up from school at about 12(pm) and we wouldn't get home until about 1(am) the next morning.

"I was on my Ls (learner's permit) at the time, so I got my hours up pretty quickly," he laughed.

Reville moved to Brisbane for his final year of school and lived with older brother Jon-Paul. Dad moved south too.

He played for the Allies at the under-18 national championships, but being dropped after one game realised his draft prospects were slim.

Bruce Reville in action for the Brisbane Academy side in 2020. Picture: AFL Photos

In many ways, it would come to define a 'close, but not quite there' period of his life.

The difficult few years included the COVID-19 interrupted seasons of 2020 and 2021, which included a broken collarbone.

Paying rent to his brother and then moving out with partner Zoe, Reville needed money, and this is where his balancing act began.

The abattoir was a tough job. He'd work 12-hour shifts as a machine operator then a knife hand and spend most of his time in a freezer before training at night.

He regularly got sick going from one extreme in temperature to another in the Queensland heat. He'd lose weight, with a less-than-ideal diet as he'd race from long work days to training.

Zoe worked at Bunnings and shortly Reville did too, driving forklifts and cutting the work shifts down to 'just' eight hours.

He split time between the Lions, getting the occasional call-up for NEAFL/VFL, Redlands and Sherwood, never losing hope.

"I always thought I had the talent for it and just thought I needed the opportunity and was getting setback after setback," he said.

"The staff at the Lions and boys back at Sherwood always said: "you've got the talent, you've just got to keep working hard"


"They told me to stay ready. I've just had a lot of belief and a lot of people around me had the same mindset."

Last season was the breakthrough. With a few VFL spots eventually opening up on Brisbane's healthy list, Reville pounced, kicking three goals against Frankston in his first game and never looking back.

Playing his best football of the season during the finals series, he was suddenly a chance and Brisbane selected him as a Category B Rookie.

He was just shy of turning 23 and had spent the four seasons since being overlooked in his draft year grinding away, hoping and believing.

"I was very emotional, it's such a big thing," he said.

"Zoe – there's no way I could have got through it all without her - my family, they all know how much I've sacrificed and what it means to me."

With the road he travelled to get on a list, it should be little surprise Reville quickly made a fist of things at the top level.

Not burdened with juggling work and football, he has improved rapidly in 2024 and was a popular addition to the Lions' team ahead of facing Gold Coast in round eight.

Since then, he's played eight straight games, showing composure, kicking skills and tenacity well beyond his experience level.

Last week's nine-disposal, six score involvement final quarter in Brisbane's comeback win over Melbourne was a huge step forward in his development.

"Bruce is a brave player, a really good tackler and he's a team man," coach Chris Fagan said.

Next time you see the man with dreadlocks and hear the "Bruuuuuuce" crowd call during a Lions game, know the man behind it has tread one of the longest, windiest roads you could to reach the AFL.