In the last 16 years across the AFL competition, just 15 first-year listed players have played every game over the course of a full season.
Superstars of our game including the likes of Brett Deledio, Bryce Gibbs, Cyril Rioli, Dyson Heppell and Jaeger O’Meara are some of those that played every game in their debut campaign and have gone on to forge successful careers at the elite level.
Gold Coast midfielder Touk Miller was the only AFL player to join them in 2015, playing all 22 games to finish fourth in the SUNS’ best & fairest averaging an impressive 17 disposals and five tackles per game. He also ranked second in the competition for pressure acts behind Collingwood’s Jack Crisp.
Speaking to the media at day two of the SUNS’ Community Camp at Benowa State School, Miller revealed the 2015 season took its toll following its completion.
“I think come off-season I started to feel the pinch a little bit but that was expected,” he said.
“It was my first season so I didn’t know what else to expect in that regard and now looking forward to 2016.
“I’ve had a pretty good pre-season and managed myself really well so fingers crossed that load probably won’t carry through. It was a bit hard but I got through.”
With the end of a brutal second summer campaign at Metricon Stadium in sight, the former Vic Metro captain wants to earn the label of an ‘elite AFL midfielder.' It’s something that Head of Development, Matthew Lappin, said the tenacious midfielder was well on his way to achieving with his pre-season performance mirroring his ambitious goals.
READ: Touk Miller and Peter Wright impressing Skinny Lappin
Miller has been checking off every box put in front of him by the SUNS high performance and coaching staff as round one of the home and away season quickly approaches.
“Fitness is improved,” Miller said.
“I think I’ve had a pretty reasonable pre-season, I’ve managed to tick all the boxes so far and Justin Cordy’s really happy with where I’m heading and I’m trying to put myself in that bracket of an elite midfielder in terms of my body and prepping myself to get to that role.
“So I think with the blokes around me I can probably learn a bit more off them and really try and cement a spot there.”
The 19-year-old will face much stiffer competition for a spot in the engine room in 2016 with the returns of Gary Ablett, Dion Prestia, David Swallow and Jaeger O’Meara all expected in the early stages of the season.
However, Miller is welcoming of the challenge ahead and will push his more experienced counterparts every step of the way, determined to create his own opportunity in the middle of the ground rather than waiting in the wings.
READ: GC SUNS intraclub preview
“I could say bide my time but if I bide my time I probably won’t be playing till I’m 28, so I think at the moment I want to push for it,” he said.
“As long as I’m putting the pressure on it probably holds them to account, it’s just really good for the club and good competitiveness.
“I’m going to try my best to try and crack in but I think it could take a little bit of time.”