SUNS Academy product Will Graham has been named the Round 16 Telstra AFL Rising Star nominee following a superb showing against Collingwood on Saturday night.

Graham played the finest match of his young career in front of a sold-out crowd at People First Stadium, recording a career-high 22 disposals to go with four clearances and a classy goal.

Graham is a Gold Coast junior who played his junior football for the Palm Beach Currumbin Lions, also rising through the ranks of the SUNS Academy and representing Queensland at Under 17 level.

A life-long SUNS fans, Graham was one of the club’s foundation members in 2011.

He became the Lions’ youngest senior player at 15 years old, and despite twice tearing his meniscus and spending long stints on the sidelines during his teenage years, he was part of the history-making Allies Under 18 team in 2023 and joined the SUNS with Pick 26 in the 2023 AFL Draft.

He was one of four SUNS Academy products to be drafted to the club in 2023, alongside Jed Walter, Ethan Read and Jake Rogers.

After making his AFL debut alongside good mate Read in Gather Round, Graham has played nine senior games and is averaging 14 disposals and six tackles per game.

Graham is the third SUNS player to earn a Telstra AFL Rising Star nomination in 2024, alongside Jake Rogers (Round 7) and Bodhi Uwland (Round 12). The latter broke the news to Graham in front of his teammates on Monday afternoon.

2024 Telstra AFL Rising Star nominees

OR: Matt Roberts (Sydney Swans)
R1: Ollie Dempsey (Geelong Cats)
R2: George Wardlaw (North Melbourne)
R3: Harvey Gallagher (Western Bulldogs)
R4: Sam Darcy (Western Bulldogs)
R5: Harley Reid (West Coast Eagles)
R6: Darcy Wilson (St Kilda)
R7: Jake Rogers (Gold Coast SUNS)
R8: Caleb Windsor (Melbourne)
R9: Colby McKercher (North Melbourne)
R10: Kai Lohmann (Brisbane Lions)
R11: Harvey Harrison (Collingwood)
R12: Bodhi Uwland (Gold Coast SUNS)
R13: Luke Nankerviss (Adelaide)
R14: Harvey Thomas (Greater Western Sydney)
R15: Logan Morris (Brisbane Lions)
R16: Will Graham (Gold Coast SUNS)