He’s been a Gold Coast SUN for less than 48 hours and Academy product Lloyd Johnston is already endearing himself to his new fans.
Hailing from Borroloola, approximately 1000km south east of Darwin, the 18-year-old says his journey from the Territory to the Gold Coast SUNS is driven by business and a desire to take the SUNS to the top.
One of just three Territorians to earn an invitation to the National Draft Combine, Johnston’s delight was for all to see when he was told by GC SUNS National Recruiting Manager Kall Burns that the club would be taking him in Wednesday’s AFL Rookie Draft.
“It’s an unreal feeling. Getting the call on Wednesday was amazing,” Johnston said.
“I’ve just been getting calls. Some happy, some emotional and everyone’s just very proud of me
“From training Monday to Friday, playing Saturday and Sunday, it’s a feeling that the hard work has paid off.”
Johnston is one of a growing list of players with links to the Territory on the SUNS list alongside Malcolm Rosas Jnr, Joel Jeffrey, Sandy Brock, Ben Long and Jy Farrar.
His raw talent and ability to capture fans’ imaginations has been on display for all to see for some time now having taking out the NTFL Rising Star Award in his debut season for the Wanderers before representative honours for both the league and the Northern Territory alongside the Allies at the 2022 NAB AFL Under 18 Championships.
Johnston also earned a couple of opportunities in the SUNS VFL squad, but it was the chance to train alongside the SUNS AFL squad on its 2022 visit to the Territory that really lit the desire for the young star to chase down his AFL dreams.
“To be around them was just amazing, it gave me the motivation to be one of them,” Johnston added.
“I was just telling myself ‘imagine if I could be an AFL player one day’ – after being around them.
“I see the way they’re training – it’s quick, they move fast. You watch them on the sidelines and think, I could be out there playing with these boys, you just have to put the work in.
“It actually changed up my daily routine, my training, eating and sleep.”
The electric defender landed in Queensland on Thursday before his first day of pre-season with the SUNS on Friday.
When asked on his ambitions at his new club, he didn’t hold back.
“I don’t want them to regret picking me. I want to show them I come for business and to try and get them to a win a flag.”