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2019 Draftee Recap

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 26:  Caleb Graham, Ben King, Izak Rankine, Jack Lukosius and Jez McLennan pose during a Gold Coast Suns AFL media Opportunity on November 26, 2018 in Gold Coast, Australia.  (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images/AFL Media)

With the 2019 season in the books, the team at SUNS Media have had a look back at the draftees’ first seasons in the AFL.

It was a year of development for the 2018 draft crop, with three of the five draftees making their AFL debuts at some point in the year.

#41 Jack Lukosius (pick 2 overall)

Taken with Gold Coast’s first pick in the 2018 Draft, Lukosius hit the ground running to make his AFL debut in Round 1 against St Kilda. He settled into the side nicely, going on to play 21 out of a possible 22 games. Originally starting the season as a forward, a mid-season swing into defence paid dividends for Lukosius who was able to showcase his precision kicking in rebound. Which position he plays in 2020 remains to be seen, but overall Lukosius has an excellent foundation to build on heading into the pre-season.

Best game:

Lukosius’ best performance came late in the season, in Round 20 against Collingwood in his first game at the MCG. The 19-year-old rose to the occasion with 21 disposals and nine marks, with the coaches opting to play him higher up the ground as a high half-forward/winger.

Moment of the season:

There were many highlights but his first goal in the AFL will be one Lukosius will remember forever.

 

Year in a movie title:

Rising Sun

#37 Izak Rankine (pick 3 overall)

It was a frustrating season for Rankine who only managed to play three NEAFL games for the season. After exciting fans in the JLT Community Series, Rankine suffered a serious hamstring which saw him miss the start of the season. A setback in the injury delayed his return, with the third pick in the AFL draft playing his first game in Round 13 of the NEAFL against the Sydney Swans. A hip complaint saw him miss more time before returning to play the final two games of the season. Overall, it was a year of off-field development for Rankine who has extended his contract with the club for an additional two years.

Moment of the season:

On the field, there was a sublime effort from the pocket in JLT1 which set tongues wagging, but extending his contract with the club until the end of 2022 would be his best moment off the field.

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Year in a movie title:

The Waiting Game

#34 Ben King (pick 6 overall)

Having to prove himself in the NEAFL first, King came in to make his AFL debut in Round 9 against Port Adelaide. It wasn’t his day in the wet conditions, but the key forward went on to play every game for the remainder of the season to reach 14 for the year. After starting the year in defence, King proved his aptitude when swung forward in the NEAFL, impressing with his leading skills and contested marking. Those skills translated well at AFL level, with King earning a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination and Mark of the Year nomination in Round 19 after booting four goals.

Best game:

King’s breakout game was in Round 19 against Essendon, coincidentally the same game he earnt his two nominations. The 19-year-old booted four goals from his nine disposals and five marks to breathe life into the contest in the final quarter. He had some individual highlights in that patch, taking a pair of strong pack marks to stamp his authority on the match.

Moment of the season:

There were plenty of highlights: his debut, first AFL goal and playing on the MCG for the first time. But his standout moment on the field was his Mark of the Year nomination against the Bombers.

 

Year in a movie title:

King of Kings

#43 Jez McLennan (pick 23 overall)

He came close to earning an AFL debut this season, but 2019 shaped as a year of development for McLennan who played 14 NEAFL matches. Playing off half-back for most of the year, McLennan averaged 15 disposals and four marks per game. The soon-to-be 19-year-old grew in confidence as he became accustomed to the bigger bodies of the NEAFL and finished the year in solid form. He was named as an emergency for the senior side multiple times and travelled with the senior team but will be aiming to take the next step and debut in 2020.

Moment of the season:

McLennan’s best moment occurred off the field, when the first-year SUN extended his contract until the end of 2022. He was one of four to extend alongside Will Brodie, Darcy Macpherson and Caleb Graham.

 

Year in a movie title:

Edge of Tomorrow

#46 Caleb Graham (pick 71 overall)

After impressive form in the NEAFL, Graham surprised even himself when he was called up for his AFL debut in Round 21 against the Brisbane Lions. The key defender expected to spend the year developing in the NEAFL but his hard work saw the SUNS Academy graduate promoted for the final three games of the year. He played on opponents such as Jarryd Roughead and Jeremy Cameron which are experiences he’ll learn from and take into 2020.

Best game:

Graham’s best performance was in Round 22 against Hawthorn. The 18-year-old had 16 disposals and four marks playing on both Roughead and Tim O’Brien. Moment of the season:

 

Year in a movie title:

The Graduate