SUNS Media have had a look at how the club’s draftees are tracking in their first season at the club.
Five were taken in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft, with another two joining the club through the supplementary selection period prior to Round 1 and the mid-season draft.
#41 Jack Lukosius (pick 2, 2018 National Draft)
Lukosius has had a fine start to his AFL career with the SUNS. He’s played in 12 of a possible 13 games to start the season and is building some solid form in the forward line. He’s shown a high work-rate in his debut season and is ranked above average for tackles and pressure acts at the midway point of the season.
The 18-year-old is starting to show glimpses of his potential and will gain confidence from his first half of the season to finish 2019 strongly and springboard into his second year.
#37 Izak Rankine (pick 3, 2018 National Draft)
After impressing in the JLT Community Series in the pre-season, Rankine has been in a holding pattern as he recovers from a hamstring injury sustained in JLT2. The dynamic forward was one of the most skilful players in the 2018 draft, but has had to wait for his chance to show it on the field this year.
After a setback early on, Rankine has completed his rehabilitation and is back to full training with the rest of the list. He’ll likely play his first NEAFL match this weekend and will have his sights set on an AFL debut in the second half of the season.
#34 Ben King (pick 6, 2018 National Draft)
Ben King started in the NEAFL with the SUNS as a defender, before shifting into the forward line after a few games. Since then he’s impressed with his leading patterns, contested marking and accurate kicking in front of goal.
He earnt his AFL debut in Round 9 against Port Adelaide and has played five games since. He’s kicked five goals in that period and taken 16 marks in the four games after his debut in the wet weather slog in Adelaide. King has looked comfortable in his first season playing against men and will be looking to back up his impressive start in the second half of the year.
#43 Jez McLennan (pick 23, 2018 National Draft)
McLennan is yet to make his AFL debut, but is starting to find some consistency in the NEAFL. The 18-year-old has played nine NEAFL matches this year, mostly at half-back, where he’s averaging 15 disposals per game. He’s also taking on average four marks per game.
McLennan has been named as a senior emergency on two occasions and is edging closer towards an AFL debut. He’ll be looking to put together some more solid NEAFL performances to put his name in contention later in the season.
#46 Caleb Graham (pick 71, 2018 National Draft)
A dour key defender, Graham’s development has come a long way in 12 months. The SUNS Academy graduate played for the SUNS in the NEAFL last season, but with an AFL pre-season behind him has taken his game to the next level this year. Graham is constantly improving on his defensive craft and is doing well to spoil or out-mark his opponents either on the last line of defence or further up the ground.
His goal this year will be to finish the season with a solid body of work behind him to add more size to his frame in the off-season. It might be difficult for Graham to seize an AFL debut this year behind the likes of Jack Hombsch, Sam Collins and Jack Leslie but he could get an opportunity if injuries hit.
#47 Sam Fletcher (2019 Supplementary Selection Period)
Fletcher came to the club prior to Round 1 in the first AFL Supplementary Selection Period. The 19-year-old had an interrupted draft year with injury but put that behind him with a solid pre-season with VFL side Box Hill. Fletcher hasn’t had the ideal start to his career at the SUNS, going down with an ankle injury in a NEAFL practice match before injuring his quad shortly after.
The inside midfielder is still 2-3 weeks away from a return and will be intent on making an impact when he does. A 2019 AFL debut is still on the cards, but Fletcher will need to prove his fitness with an extended run in the NEAFL and perform well enough to warrant senior selection.
#48 Mitch Riordan (pick 2, 2019 Mid-Season Rookie Draft)
Riordan has been at the club for just a month after being selected in the mid-season Rookie Draft by the club with pick 2. Riordan can play either as an inside midfielder or off half-back with his speed an asset.
The 19-year-old was eased into his first game in the NEAFL prior to the bye where he performed solidly with a team-high 12 tackles. He still has work to do on his endurance and match fitness but could be in the frame for a late-season AFL debut if form permits.