Rebounding defender Lloyd Johnston will make his AFL debut on Saturday afternoon when the Gold Coast SUNS play Carlton at Heritage Bank Stadium.

Johnston joined the SUNS as a pre-selected rookie out of the club’s Darwin Academy and has impressed at VFL level in 2023.

“I can’t believe it, I’ve been working so hard for this,” Johnston said.

“I just want to go out there and do everything I can for my teammates, and represent my family and community with pride.

“It means the world to get this opportunity.”

GC SUNS Interim Coach Steven King said Johnston had earned this opportunity to play at the highest level.

“We’ve been so impressed with Lloyd this year, he’s come so far and has developed into a young professional within our football club,” King said.

“His ability to learn, grow and retain information has improved tremendously across the season and he’s been able to improve in all facets of his game.

“Lloydy has 100 percent earned this opportunity, he’s hungry to play and we can’t wait to see him run out this weekend for the first time with the AFL team.”

A proud Yanyuwa man, Johnston hails from a small town called Borroloola, approximately 1000km south east of Darwin.

The 18-year-old has played 16 VFL matches for the SUNS this year, averaging 13 disposals and four marks per game.