AFTER a brutal off-season that saw both club captains walk out and a number of other players shipped off, Gold Coast Suns went back to the draft, having three selections in the top 10. The Suns picked up high school teammates and friends, Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine, before picking up best available with Ben King at pick six. They swooped with a live trade to secure Jez McLennan, and picked up Academy prospect, Caleb Graham with their final selection.
Jack Lukosius – Key Position Utility
The standout key position player in the draft crop, Lukosius is arguably the most talked about draftee of the past 12 months. Since bursting onto the scene with a mesmerising preliminary final in the SANFL League as a 16 year-old, Lukosius has long been talked up as a prestigious talent. He can play at either end, but has predominantly played forward, with the Woodville West Torrens tall set to replace Tom Lynch inside 50. He has that senior experience and should be ready to go from Round 1, with fellow top 10 prospects, Izak Rankine and Ben King also likely to line-up in the red and gold.
Izak Rankine – Small Forward/Midfielder
The most exciting player in the draft, Rankine adds a touch of class and X-factor to the Suns’ forward line, and joins Henley High teammate, Lukosius at Gold Coast. He will likely buzz around Lukosius’ feet and then create his own opportunities, as a player who can draw a crowd to their feet. A lot was talked about his desire to stay in South Australia, but like any player the preference is to remain home, and Rankine now has an opportunity to at least be interstate with a couple of South Australian teammates. He is a player who should be in the team from Round 1, and is a player that will be eye-catching and have a number of highlight reel moments.
Ben King – Key Position Utility
After brother Max ended up at St Kilda, Ben King was drafted by Gold Coast two picks later. As the second highest performing key position player available – given Max missed the top-age year – Ben was a no-brainer for the Suns. Much like Rankine, the murmurs started early – even by the St Kilda social media team – about the uncertainty of breaking up the brothers interstate. But just focusing on the football, King will likely slot into centre half-back replacing Steven May, but could swing forward to team up with Lukosius as well. An unbelievable athlete who will play plenty of games next season.
Jez McLennan – General Defender
After finding replacements for Lynch and May, Gold Coast picked up a Kade Kolodjashnij replacement in Jez McLennan. Unlike many others, McLennan said he would love to end up on the Gold Coast, which would have no doubt factored into the Suns’ thinking. They had to trade up to secure him, but McLennan joined Lukosius and Rankine as the South Australian flavour. He has had SANFL League experience, so is a fourth player who could slot straight into the side if required.
Caleb Graham – Key Position Utility
After picking up interstaters, Gold Coast looked to its own backyard for its final selection. The Suns picked up switchman, Caleb Graham as a long-term prospect for the club. He has settled into defence, but has also shown an ability to play forward, and with Queensland his native state, provides some security in that department. The Suns have looked to grab talls in this draft, and they have done just that, with Graham a work in progress, but one that will likely bare fruit in a few years.
Michael Rischitelli – Balanced Midfielder
The ‘retired’ midfielder might have been the punchline of the night at the Brownlow Medal when his highlights package was included in the retirees slideshow, but Rischitelli is most certainly returning to the Suns for season 2019. Delisted and redrafted as a rookie like all three selections, Rischitelli adds vital experience to the young squad, especially through that midfield.
Jack Leslie – Key Position Defender
The former Gippsland Power tall was delisted and was redrafted as a rookie to provide good depth in the key position area. Along with King and Graham, he will likely continue his development in defence, but has experience through the ruck as well.
Brad Scheer – Inside Midfielder
The former Gold Coast Academy member is the third Suns player to be delisted and redrafted, and like the others, provides good depth in his positional area. A hard-nosed inside midfielder and accumulator, he will look to prove a point having gained a lifeline through the Rookie Draft.
The Gold Coast Suns needed to go tall and they did just that, picking up Lukosius, King and Graham to replenish the stocks after co-captains, Lynch and May left. They also picked up the exciting Rankine in the forward half, and the composed McLennan in the back half. Along with three senior listed players moving onto the rookie draft, the Suns will be hoping this is the draft that turns the club’s fortunes around.