Noah Anderson will begin phase two of his AFL career on Saturday afternoon …. as a 24-year-old. And he’ll do so as statistically the best 24-year-old in SUNS history.

Having celebrated his 24th birthday on 17 February, Anderson has a record superior to every other SUNS player at the equivalent stage of their career.

Through 81 games, he has had most possessions (1902), amassed 44 Brownlow Medal votes and finished top 10 in the club best & fairest four times – 6th in 2020, 8th in 2021,, 2nd in 2022 and 1st in 2023.

It’s a comparison that confirms the class of Anderson and good mate Matt Rowell, who joined the SUNS as picks #1-2 in the 2019 AFL National Draft, and reminds SUNS fans of the unfilled talent of former #2 draft pick Harley Bennell, who played 81 games with the club from 2011-15 before ill-fated stints at Fremantle (2 games in 2017) and Melbourne (5 games in 2020).

Among 27 players who have played a minimum 50 games before their 24th birthday, Dion Prestia ranks 2nd for possessions (1876) behind Anderson (1902) and ahead of Bennell (1781), Touk Miller (1661) and David Swallow (1615).

On a possessions-per-game basis, Anderson (23.5ppg) heads the list from Prestia (23.2), Brayden Fiorini (22.4), Bennell (22.0), Swallow (20.4) and Miller (20.3).

Anderson’s 44 Brownlow votes heads Bennell (26), Rowell (25), Prestia (23), Jack Lukosius (13), Tom Lynch (12) and Fiorini (10).

Rowell, who will not turn 24 until 1 July, will have as many as 15 or even 16 games to add to his career statistics of 62 games, 1151 possessions (18.6ppg) and 25 votes.

Lukosius has played most games for the club prior to his 24th birthday at 93 from Charlie Ballard (87), Miller (82), Anderson, Prestia, Bennell (81), Lynch (80), Swallow (79), Sam Day (78), Kade Kolodjashnij (77), Trent McKenzie (76), Matt Shaw (72), Wil Powell, Sean Lemmens (69), Ben King (68), Jack Martin, Peter Wright (66), Jesse Joyce (64), Rowell (62), Jack Bowes (59), Ben Ainsworth (57), Luke Russell (56), Brandon Matera, Alex Sexton, Jesse Lonergan (55), Steven May (53) and Fiorini (52).

Lynch (124) narrowly kicked most goals for the club before his 24th birthday from King (122), but King averages 1.79 goals per game to better Lynch (1.55gpg) on averages.

Bennell is the #3 goal-kicker among this group with 92 from Wright (85), Matera (60), Martin (59), Lukosius (53) and Day (51).

Lukosius is the ‘winningest’ SUN prior to his 24th birthday, having posted 30 wins to this point of his career. Anderson (28) is #2 from Rowell (25), Kolodjashnij (24), Ballard (24), McKenzie (23), Day (23), Swallow (22) and Lynch (22).

The SUNS will go into Saturday’s season-opener looking to share the ledger against the Tigers and equal the club record for most consecutive games against an AFL opponent.

Having won their last three games against Richmond at home in 2021 and 2023 and at Marvel Stadium in 2022, Gold Coast have a 6-7 record against the 2017-19-20 premiers.

A win on Saturday will see them equal their four-game winning streak against GWS in 2012-14.

Swallow has played 10 of the SUNS’ 12 games against the Tigers to head the club list from Day and Harbrow (9), Miller (8) and Sexton, Fiorini and Rischitelli (7), and is the only SUN to have played in each of the club’s six wins against Richmond.

Ablett holds the record for most possessions by a Gold Coast player in a game against Richmond at 41 at People First Stadium in Round 1 2014, when they won by 18 points in the AFL debut of Sean Lemmens, Clay Cameron and Jack Martin.

Aaron Hall had an equal career-best 40 for the SUNS against the Tigers at Carrara in 2017.

The Gold Coast record for most goals in a game against Richmond stands at four to the credit of Ben King in 2021 and 2023, and ex-Sun Tom Lynch in 2016. Lynch, recently appointed a new vice-captain of the Tigers, is reportedly racing against time to be fit to play against his former club this week.

Ablett has earned most Brownlow votes for the SUNS in games against Richmond at 10 from Anderson (6) and Miller (4).

Among 144 Gold Coast players all-time, no less than 11 have also played for Richmond – more than any other club.

The shared players have been Josh Caddy, Dion Prestia, Lynch and Maverick Weller, who played first on the tourist strip, Andrew Raines, Anthony Miles, Corey Ellis, Brandon Ellis, Oleg Markov, Jacob Townsend and Mabior Chol, who played first at Punt Road.  

The SUNS have a 5-8 record overall in their first game of the season – 3-4 at home.

And what has been the club’s most memorable season-opener?

While the club’s first game in 2011, ironically against Carlton at the Gabba in Round 2, will always be fondly remembered the club’s best start to a season came against Essendon at home in 2016.

It was the start of Rodney Eade’s second season in charge and Essendon’s first game under John Worsfold, who took the helm after the drugs scandal which rocked the club in 2015-16.

Michael Rischitelli played his 200th AFL game, Callum Ah Chee made his AFL debut, and Matt Rosa played his first game in red and yellow against a patched up Bombers side that included ex-Brisbane ruckman Matthew Leuenberger, who moved south after playing second fiddle to Stefan Martin at the Gabba.

Darcy Parish and Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti made their AFL debut for Essendon alongside imports James Kelly, Mathew Stokes, Ryan Crowley, Craig Bird, Jonathan Simpkin, Matt Dea and Mitch Brown, who were recruited to help Worsfold field a competitive side after 34 players were suspended.

The SUNS won 17-19 (121) to 9-6 (60). Hall (36), Ablett (34) and Rosa (32) led the possession count and Lynch kicked four goals as Hall (3), Lynch (2) and Ablett (1) picked up the medal votes.

It was equal 10th biggest win in club history and put the SUNS sat third on the Round 1 ladder with a percentage of 201.7.