New SUNS recruit and self-confessed underdog Brodie McLaughlin says he ‘sees a lot of himself’ in the Gold Coast SUNS.
McLaughlin became the SUNS’ third pre-season supplementary selection in the last two seasons last week following a rollercoaster journey to the AFL that even saw him turn away from football as a teenager.
Since walking in the doors at the Austworld Centre late in 2022, the 25-year-old told SEN that he’s all on board with what the club is building on the Gold Coast.
“I’ve fallen in love. I see a lot of myself in the SUNS, it’s a club that’s been underrated and has been an underdog club since it came in and that’s me, I feel like I’ve been an underdog my whole life,” McLaughlin said on SEN on Friday morning.
“I love the culture we’re building up here. Ever since I walked through the door there is this absolute hunger and determination to have success in September.
“It’s unashamedly what we’re driven for – the staff, the players, the physios – ever since I walked in the door it was overwhelming how hungry this group is.
“I want to be a part of that, we want to be pioneers of something great. I love the underdog story.”
After being overlooked for representative honours throughout his junior years, it’s been a story of resilience for McLaughlin who has battled severe injuries and a global pandemic in his bid to play consistent footy.
His determination to empty the tank in search of his AFL dream was highlighted by his time at Frankston, during which he was often at the club putting in the extra yards for hours after training had finished.
A long-awaited stroke of luck in 2022 allowed him to shine for Frankston in the VFL, kicking 24 goals in 12 games.
“When I was young, I was overlooked with all the NAB League, TAC Cup – I didn’t get a shot at all and then coming into Year 12 I didn’t get picked up for U18s and I just stopped playing footy, focused on study and I thought the dream was over,” McLaughlin continued.
“I wasn’t until I played in my first year out of high school, playing seniors and I really thrived.
“(2022) was probably the first year in so long where I just played consistent football. There’d been broken bones, COVID – I hadn’t been able to put together a season, I’d played 24 games in four years.
“I had a real deep belief that if I had the chance to play consistent football, I could show what I’ve got, I just wasn’t gifted that opportunity.”
“I know how it felt to lose that dream and I said I wasn’t going to be in that position again unless I’ve given it everything I can.”
Now officially on an AFL list, the versatile forward is squarely focussed on earning an AFL debut.
“I’m definitely not here just to fill up the numbers. I want to push to play as much AFL as possible and drive this group to achieve some success.”
The SUNS face Essendon and GWS in pre-season outings before Round 1 at home against the Sydney Swans on March 18.