They played together growing up, they won junior premierships together and now SUNS draftee Will Graham is on an AFL list with several of his best mates.

Graham was one of three Palm Beach Currumbin Lions products who were taken in the opening round of Monday night’s NAB AFL Draft, taken at Pick 26 alongside Jed Walter (Pick 3) and Ethan Read (Pick 9).

Graham, who won an Under 12 premiership alongside both Walter and Read as well as the National Championships with the Allies earlier this year, says it’s still sinking in that he’s joining his mates on an AFL list, no less than at the club he’s supported his whole life.

(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)

“It’s pretty surreal. Being from the Gold Coast makes it extra special,” Graham told SUNS Media.

“I’ve known these boys pretty much my whole life and we’ve grown up playing football together. To see how far we’ve come is cool.

“Going for the SUNS my whole life and getting the opportunity to play for them now, there’s nothing better.”

The PBC trio were joined on the SUNS list by Broadbeach Cats product Jake Rogers who was taken with Pick 14 on Monday night.

Graham concedes having the nimble midfielder on his side as a SUNS Academy, Allies and now SUNS AFL teammate is a much more attractive prospect than memories of playing against Rogers as a junior.

“I remember Jake had his own little game plan when we played against them. We always had to be wary of where he was on the field… it’s definitely much nicer to be playing with him instead,” Graham added.

It’s been a bumpy road to realising his boyhood dream for Graham, who’s been a member of the SUNS Academy throughout his youth football years.

He twice tore his meniscus and spent long stints on the sideline but threw his name right among the top prospects with an impressive 2023 campaign.

Graham featured throughout the Academy Series before playing four VFL games for the club, all against AFL-aligned opponents, and playing a key role in defence for the Allies.


He all but solidified his place as a first-round selection with a standout showing at the National Combine, blitzing the power-based tests, complimenting natural ball-winning and pressure attributes.

“It was a great experience to be at the National Combine. My testing even surprised myself a fair bit… I pretty much recorded all PBs,” Graham continued.

“I’d say my biggest strengths are my want to get the footy and my tackle pressure. It’s always been pretty natural to me but it’s been something I’ve definitely worked on.”

The 18-year-old says while there have been several influences on him during his development, there are a handful that stand out among the rest.

“(SUNS Academy Athletic Performance Coach) Josh Whitty has been my man. I tore my meniscus twice, he was the guy I was with through my rehab both times. He’s been a big influence on me,” Graham continued.

James Tsitas has also been a big influence. He’s such a good bloke and always willing to lend a hand to help out… he’s been great.

“Mum’s always been there too, through all the ups and downs. She’d be my number one supporter, always watching my games.”

Graham will begin his first AFL pre-season alongside his new teammates next week.