GOLD COAST took great strides in 2020 and became one of the more enjoyable sides to watch, with a raft of young talent helping the Queensland-based team to 14th place after consecutive bottom-two finishes. The Suns came into this draft having done most of their work beforehand, making the most of concessions afforded to them by the AFL to pre-list a couple of top 25 academy talents and rookie three more, while also snaring a genuine slider with Pick 7. Some senior names were also given extended chances through the Rookie Draft, making what looks like a slender draft haul at first glance a rather deep and valuable one for the rising Suns.
#7 Elijah Hollands (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
It was a rather short and sweet National Draft for Gold Coast – the same could not be said for viewers who stayed the course – with Pick 7 its only live selection. Elijah Hollands, a dynamic midfielder/forward with top three value, was the Suns’ man having slid down the order when North Melbourne’s selection of Will Phillips saw the dominoes fall differently than expected. The Murray Bushrangers product has exactly the kind of star quality which Gold Coast looks for at the top end, and while he may not see any game time for the first half of his debut season as he recovers from an ACL tear, he could well become the best player out of this year’s crop down the line.
He joins pre-listed academy guns Alex Davies and Joel Jeffrey on the Suns’ primary list, essentially meaning three top 25 prospects were landed for the price of one. Davies is a big-bodied inside midfielder who excels at the contest with his clean hands and poise in traffic, which made him Queensland’s top talent from a while back. Jeffrey comes in via the Suns’ access to the Darwin zone and brings terrific athleticism as a swingman. He will likely start in defence but could just as easily utilise his aerial nous as a lead-up forward with serious speed and goal sense.
Among the other academy graduates to hit the bigtime were Rhys Nicholls and Aiden Fyfe. Both were pre-listed rookie selections but had their names called out in that draft, while International Scholarship holder Hewego Paul Oea earned Category B status prior to the draft. Nicholls and Fyfe are both aggressive forward runners who can play off half-back or the wing, while ‘Ace’ Oea is a Papua New Guinea native known for his exciting speed and raw talent in the forward half. All three are prospective picks who should provide decent squad depth in the long-term.
The Suns also snared a fresh face, but one familiar to the competition in Jacob Townsend through the Rookie Draft. The 27-year-old joins his fourth AFL club and will add some experience to the forwardline. Meanwhile, Jack Hombsch and Jordan Murdoch were also taken with rookie picks as re-listed players who have been granted another chance in the Suns’ squad. The primary listing of Davies and Jeffrey pushed a number of senior names onto an extended rookie list, which again ties into concessions afforded by the AFL.
Featured Image: The SUNS’ pre-listed Academy talents | Credit: SUNS Media