Suns’ new stars are ready to rise
Top two AFL draft picks Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson believe they have joined the house of the rising Suns.
As expected, the Gold Coast took Rowell with the first selection in Wednesday night's draft in Melbourne and then secured fellow Victorian midfielder Anderson with their second pick.
Rowell was presented with his Suns jumper by two of the club's high draft picks from last year - Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine - while Anderson received his Gold Coast guernsey from Ben King - another lofty selection from the 2018 draft class.
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So in the space of 10 minutes, five young guns who call the Gold Coast home, and who will form the core of the club's rebuild, shared the stage at Marvel Stadium.
Even though they only won three games on the way to the 2019 wooden spoon, the Suns are assembling some serious top-end young talent.
Rowell was told by the Suns last Thursday they would be picking him at No.1 and the prevailing emotion was joy mixed with relief after being the red-hot tip for the first selection all year.
"I really excited to go up to the Gold Coast. They've been really positive with me all year and just seeing the likes of Lukosius and Rankine and King signing on, it's a great sign for them and I can't wait to be a part of that,'' Rowell said.
"I'll never forget the moment (the Suns telling him he would be no.1) … it was pretty amazing.
"I've wanted to get to this stage for a long time.
"Obviously there will be expectation and pressure (with being no.1 pick) but pressure is a privilege.
"I've just got to put my head down and work hard from here. It's just a number at the end of the day and I've just got to work hard now and earn my spot.''
Rowell and Anderson are best mates who have played junior football together at club, school and representative level. They were the standout players in the 2019 draft class and while it was considered a foregone conclusion that they would be selected by the Suns, they were still pinching themselves.
"It was awesome to see his (Anderson's) name read out,'' Rowell said. "We are best mates so to go up and share this journey with him will be pretty special.
"It's a bit of a dream come true. We've kind of joked about playing at an AFL club together and now it's actually real.''
Anderson said the Suns had a bright future and was delighted to be a part of it.
"They are young so exciting. They've got so much potential and talent there. I'm looking forward to it,'' he said.
The Suns picked up forward Sam Flanders with their third selection last night. The 182cm-tall Gippsland Power product was an under 18 All-Australian in 2019.
Meanwhile, Brisbane will enter the draft on Thursday night in the second round.
The Lions yesterday re-signed midfielder Ely Smith who they took with pick no. 21 at the 2018 draft.
STUART DEW: MATURE BODIES PUTS PAIR IN MIX
Gold Coast senior coach Stuart Dew says Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson are well and truly in the mix to make their senior debuts for the Suns in Round 1 next year.
The No.1 and No.2 selections at the AFL draft are heading to the Gold Coast and the midfielders are set to make an immediate impact at the highest level.
"We can only go on the evidence which is they have mature mindsets and mature bodies for their age so that certainly puts you in the mix,'' Dew said.
"Jack Lukosius did that last year and Ben King - once he got his body right - was impressive in that regard as well.
"They are fantastic characters. They can obviously play football and have both had fantastic years on the field too.
"We've been pretty clear with them all along that we would be taking them because we think they are the best two players in the country for their age.
"It's an absolute bonus that they are mates but in essence they are good people from good families, so we are rapt. It's exciting to be welcoming them into the football club.''
Dew enjoyed seeing the re-signed trio of Lukosius, King and Izak Rankine present the jumpers to best mates Rowell and Anderson.
"It's special to see all the boys. When the boys were told that Matthew and Noah were going to be picked at no.1 and no.2, they were rapt that they would be welcoming them into their footy club,'' he said.
"The players have created a really good environment at the club and these two will only add to that.''