One of the biggest surprises out of Round 1 of the 2019 NAB AFL Draft was Gold Coast’s audacious move to secure highly-touted prospect Sam Flanders.
The SUNS went into the night with picks 1, 2, 15 and 20 – but after selecting Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson with the first and second selections, that quickly changed.
Earlier in the day Gold Coast’s National Recruiting Manager Kall Burns said the club would need to be nimble and agile with the possibility of moving up the draft order via live pick trading, and those words rang true hours later.
With Carlton on the clock at pick 11 after failing to secure Academy prospects Liam Henry (Fremantle) and Tom Green (GWS), Burns and List Manager Craig Cameron grasped their opportunity.
The club packaged up what was then picks 17 and 22 and sent them to Carlton in exchange for the Blues’ picks 11 and 62.
It allowed the SUNS to swoop on the highly talented mid/forward Flanders who many experts had pegged as a top five prospect from Gippsland Power.
Speaking to SUNS Media shortly after his name was called, Flanders said it was flattering to see the club make such a bold play to secure him.
“I was extremely excited,” Flanders said.
“I came in not thinking I was going to be going to Gold Coast but when my name was called out I was over the moon.
“I’m really excited just to get up and get to work.”
It’s been a long time coming for Flanders, who represented Vic Country at the 2019 NAB AFL Under-18 Championships where he won All-Australian honours.
“It’s obviously a very special moment,” he said.
“All those tireless summers putting the hard yards in, to finally now have my name read out, it still sort of hasn’t really sunk in.
The 18-year-old has played the majority of his football as a forward but moved into the midfield in 2019 where he impressed with his contested ball-winning ability and strength in one-on-one contests.
Flanders gave an insight into what SUNS members and fans could expect from him in the red and gold in 2020.
“(I’m) an explosive player,” he said.
“I think I have the ability to change a game and turn it on its head.
“It should be pretty exciting.”
Flanders will join his fellow draftees for pre-season training on Monday.