A sliding doors moment when he was 16 gave Jake Rogers belief he had what it takes to become an AFL footballer one day.

Playing in his first season of senior football at Broadbeach Cats under former AFL player Craig O’Brien, Rogers was starting to feel comfortable against the bigger bodies.

Rogers has always been small in stature, today standing at 172cm, but that didn’t stop O’Brien throwing the prodigiously talented youngster straight into the starting midfield for the Cats.


The new SUNS draftee recalls a game against Gold Coast rivals Labrador in the QAFL, then coached by current SUNS Development Coach Nick Malceski.

A cunning coach, Malceski had identified Rogers as a danger player in Broadbeach’s lineup that day.

He sent two taggers to the 16-year-old throughout the match.

“I remember the game, I got double-teamed with two guys rotating throughout the match to try to tag me,” Rogers recalls.

“I remember Nick Malceski coming to me after the game and having a little chat to me. He still tries to deny he tagged me but it was pretty clear that he did,” Rogers laughs.

It was good fun and I thought I had a pretty good game. I’ll make sure I get into him about it.

“I had 25 (disposals) and two (goals),” he chuckles.

Jake Rogers lines up for goal for the Broadbeach Cats Senior side.

O’Brien knew from the moment Rogers set foot on the field as a senior player he had a future star in his midst at the Cats.

“I saw Jake play in the colts and he was never going to play in the development team,” O’Brien said.

“There’s some kids that are just in the next tier and we could see that with Jake so he went straight into the seniors from colts.

“I like throwing the kids in the deep end, you’ve got to survive and get through it.

“Five minutes into the game he was tackling blokes twice his size to the ground, we knew he was ready to go.

“We believe that giving him that opportunity and developing him is great for us as a club because he’s obviously going to progress further with his football.

“There will be 10-year-old kids at school and footy training saying I want to be Jake Rogers. That’s what it does for a club like Broadbeach, it gives belief.”

Rogers representing Broadbeach Cats Seniors in trying weather conditions.

Rogers first joined the SUNS Academy at 13, where he met three other young stars Jed Walter, Ethan Read and Will Graham – all from Palm Beach Currumbin Football Club.

Those four would go on to play all of their representative football together for the SUNS Academy, Queensland and Allies team; culminating in their selection to the SUNS this week at the AFL Draft.

Rogers’ first memories of his fellow draftees is as opposition players.

“They were all at Palm Beach and I was the only one at Broadbeach so I was a bit outnumbered,” Rogers joked.

“It was always good fun playing against those three boys and then I obviously played with them at State level and all the way from Under 12’s to now.

“They really stuck out for Palm Beach and have always been good players and hard to play against.

“We’ve been good mates for a while.”

Rogers poses with Sunny Ray ahead of a SUNS home game.

Rogers may start his career as a small forward, but hopes to one day to become a consistent AFL midfielder.

He says having the opportunity to learn alongside some of the best in the AFL at the SUNS is something he hasn’t taken for granted.

“Players like Touk Miller and Noah Anderson really took me under their wing and showed me the ropes and the intensity and skill level that it takes to be an AFL player in day-to-day life,” Rogers said.

“The last two years I’ve been treated as an AFL player which I think has really prepared me well going forward.

“Just watching them from afar but then also getting up close and training with them, you get to see how hard they work and the level that they go to in order to get better.

“The extra touch sessions, the extra Pilates – all the little things they do to put themselves ahead is something that I admire and I take note of.”

The Broadbeach product has always had obstacles to overcome in his young career.

He wasn’t blessed with blistering speed or towering height, but Rogers always knew his competitive advantage lay in his mindset and work ethic.

“I always live by the quote ‘hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’,” Rogers said.

“You might not always have the most talent or be the tallest or fastest, but if you put in the hard work eventually you’ll get there.

“That’s something I’ve lived by growing up and still do to this day. I’ve always believed in myself and had that strong self-belief.

“I think instead of trying to prove people wrong, I like to look to the people who believe in me and prove them right.”

It was a historic 2023 Draft for the Gold Coast SUNS who secured all four of the local Academy products in the first round.

(L-R) Will Graham, Ethan Read, Jed Walter and Jake Rogers of the Suns pose for a photograph following the 2023 AFL Draft at Marvel Stadium on November 21, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images via AFL Photos)

Rogers said it was a turning point for football in Queensland and on the Gold Coast.

“Everyone talks about Melbourne and South Australia and WA as big footy states but I think it’s good for kids up here playing football in Queensland to know that they can get drafted from here and you don’t need to go down to Melbourne to be seen,” he said.

“That’s off the back of clubs like the Broadbeach Cats and the SUNS Academy obviously giving those players opportunities and letting them grow into themselves in Queensland.

It’s a big credit to the junior clubs around the Gold Coast as well as the Academy.

Rogers poses with Sunny Ray ahead of a SUNS home game.

“You see yourself at their age and striving to be like AFL players and hopefully I can be one of them for the younger generation.

“Seeing four of us from the Gold Coast getting drafted is really big for them.”

With the Draft now in the rear-view mirror, Rogers has eyes firmly fixed on impressing in the upcoming pre-season to put himself in contention for an AFL debut in 2024.

“Debuting would be my number one ticket item and then obviously seeing success for the SUNS would be unreal too,” Rogers said.

“I’ve set a few goals – but I’m trying not to look too far ahead. Most of the goals are pre-season wise – just trying to get as fit and strong as possible then put myself in the best position to play hopefully Round 1 or whenever my debut might come.

“I will be pumped to walk in day one knowing that I will be an official player – it will be really exciting.”

The SUNS return for pre-season training on Monday November 27.