All three of Gold Coast’s recruits in 2021 went on to play senior football for the club this season, and SUNS Media have had a look back at their first season with the club.
#17 Oleg Markov
Games played: 17
Acquired via trade in the 2020 off-season, Markov came to the club having played 23 games in five seasons at Richmond. Despite being a part of the club during their Premiership years, Markov never featured in a final for the Tigers. However, since arriving at the Gold Coast SUNS, Markov has been a huge asset with his added speed and intercept ability to the SUNS defence. He played 17 games in 2021, the most in a single season in his career to date. Markov was enormous in providing run and carry off half-back. Hampered by calf and hamstring injuries in the back end of the season, Markov will be an important player for the SUNS in 2022. Markov debuted in Round 1 against the West Coast Eagles.
As a very consistent member of the SUNS line-up in 2021 Markov’s best games were hard to split. However arguably his best performance came the SUNS resounding win over Hawthorn in Round 11. Markov tallied 21 disposals with 15 kicks and seven marks, whilst also helping to keep Hawthorn to 76 points.
Markov’s moment of the year came against North Melbourne in Round 2 as he turned defence into attack going the length of the field to kick one of the goals of the season for the SUNS.
#2 Rory Atkins
Games played: 8
Atkins joined the Gold Coast SUNS after 101 games and eight years at the Adelaide Crows including being a part of the 2017 Grand Final team. Making his debut in the QClash, Atkins slotted into the SUNS line-up seamlessly. His first outing was highlighted by a 50m bomb on the run late in the first quarter to kick his opener for the SUNS. Atkins began the year in the VFL after off-season surgery on his shoulder.
Atkins best performance of the year came in Round 18 against the Western Bulldogs. Coming on, mid-way through the first quarter as the medical substitute, Atkins had an immediate impact with 16 disposals, 12 kicks and four marks, playing on the wing. This performance helped the SUNS push the second-placed Bulldogs for four quarters before gallantly falling by 11-points.
However, his performances in the early rounds of the VFL demonstrated Atkins ability to win the ball, typified by a 33 disposal and 1 goal game against the Box Hill Hawks in Round 12.
#21 Jacob Townsend
Games played: 2
An 11-year veteran of the AFL, Townsend spent the early part of the year in the SUNS VFL team, to help him find his feet at this new club. Drafted with pick 5 in the 2020 NAB AFL Rookie Draft, Townsend played his first game for the SUNS AFL side in a stirring Round 21 win over Carlton. Townsend’s pressure and physical presence provided the SUNS with an edge at contest time. Having played in Richmond’s 2017 Grand Final, Townsend has brought an extra level of experience to a young SUNS outfit this season.
In Townsend’s debut he brought his best game of the year. He made an impact almost immediately, hitting up former Tigers teammate Brandon Ellis inside 50, who then opened the scoring for the SUNS. Townsend didn’t stop there, having 10 touches to go along with four tackles including a huge hit on Carlton defensive star Jacob Weitering, leading to his first goal for the club.