With a bounty of top 10 draft picks at last year’s national draft, the Gold Coast SUNS have some exciting young talent on board that will provide an impact at senior level at some point this season.
Ben Ainsworth (pick No. 4), Will Brodie (pick No. 9) and Jack Bowes (pick No. 10) have all impressed at various stages of the JLT Community Series and are all deservedly ranked in the top 10 chances to take home this year’s NAB Rising Star award.
However it is second-year player Brayden Fiorini who is rated Gold Coast’s best shot at bringing the Ron Evans Medal to Metricon Stadium. A first-round selection in the 2015 AFL Draft, Fiorini missed the opening half of last season before making his long awaited debut against Collingwood in round 22.
He accumulated 17 disposals in his first game, before a spectacular second game against Port Adelaide in which he collected 32 touches, 12 tackles and two goals to snare his first Brownlow Medal vote.
After a solid pre-season playing off half back, Fiorini has demonstrated composure and an ability to use the footy with precision, which should see the 19-year-old play plenty of senior football in 2017.
No. 7 pick Jack Scrimshaw will play his first game for the SUNS in this Saturday’s NEAFL practice match but is at longer odds to be this year’s Rising Star with work still to be done on the youngster’s conditioning. Brad Scheer, Josh Schoenfeld and rookie Darcy Macpherson also featuring in betting markets.
To be eligible for the NAB AFL Rising Star, nominated players must be under the age of 21 at 1 January 2017 and have played no more than 10 AFL games.
Port Adelaide’s Sam Powell-Pepper has catapulted into the early-season favourite after a big JLT Series, ahead of last year’s No. 1 pick Andrew McGrath and Fiorini.