The Gold Coast SUNS are thrilled to announce the signing of Gold Coast Talent Academy graduates Connor Budarick and Matthew Conroy.

Budarick had an outstanding year in 2019, captaining the SUNS Academy to a NAB League series victory, averaging 24.4 disposals and nine tackles across his five games, earning him the Hunter Harrison medal as the competitions best and fairest player.

He represented the Allies at the NAB AFL Under 18 National Championships where his performances saw him earn selection in the 2019 NAB AFL Under-18 All Australian team.

Budarick,18, said this was a day that a lot of kids dream of.

“Every kid grows up wanting to play AFL for their favourite footy team and today that dream has become a reality for me," Budarick said.

“I’ve been part of the SUNS now for six years and I’m excited to be part of the team.

"The journey has only just begun, now the hard work starts, but I’m looking forward to the challenge of putting my head down and earning my spot in the team."

Throughout 2019, Budarick also played eight NEAFL matches for the SUNS and earnt a NEAFL Rising Star nomination in Round 17.

Conroy joins the club after coming through the club’s Academy program in North Queensland.

“It’s amazing to have the opportunity to play for the SUNS, the club has helped me develop both personally and professionally over the last couple of years having helped me make the move down from Townsville” Conroy said.

“I’m looking forward to working closely with the development coaches to improve my game and hopefully make all the people that have invested their time in me, proud.”

General Manager – Football Operations Jon Haines was pleased with how the club’s investment in its academy programs was continuing to provide a pathway for Queenslanders to pursue their AFL dream.

“The Talent Academy is an important pillar of our football strategy and it’s a testament to the hard work of many involved with football in this state that today we’re able to sign another two Queenslanders to our list,” Haines said.

“Connor is someone of great character, has worked really hard over a number of years and has elevated himself throughout 2019, which is a credit to him.

“Matt has progressed through a different pathway and has displayed an aptitude to work hard and is highly coachable. Matt possesses some terrific AFL attributes and we look forward to helping him develop further as part of our full time program.”

Budarick and Conroy become the second and third players signed to the club since the AFL recently awarded the club the opportunity to pre-sign players from its academy region, following yesterday’s announcement of Malcolm Rosas Jnr.