SUNS GM – Football Operations Jon Haines has ruled out a potential Round 2 debut for exciting forward Izak Rankine.
Haines said the short duration of the return to train period ahead of the 2020 season meant the club would take a cautious approach with ensuring the 2018 draftee was ready to endure the demands of AFL football.
“He’s getting closer there’s no doubt,” Haines said.
“He hasn’t quite hit his speed markers just yet – it’s been a really short escalation over the last three or four weeks and we want to set him up for a sustained run at it.
“He’ll be a couple of weeks away and we’ll make sure that we can hit those speed markers over the coming weeks and set him up for a really consistent year.”
Haines said he was pleased with the group’s effort during Friday night’s intra-club match simulation which consisted of 22-a-side for four quarters.
“It was a reinforcement of what we know, that the group’s got great capability and we’re really excited about them.
“Every time that group get to play together is really important in terms of building cohesion.
“We were able to see guys play in some different positions at times as well and we feel like the depth of the group has improved as well.”
Highly-touted draftee Sam Flanders was one who looked sharp in Friday’s session and Haines hinted he was in the conversation for Round 2 team selection.
“Certainly Sam’s put his hand up,” Haines said.
“There’s no doubt he’s had a terrific block of pre-season but he was also really impressive during the shutdown period as well.
“He certainly put his hand up on Friday night, he performed really well and is a really driven, competitive young man with great talent.
“We’re excited about him and he’ll certainly be up for selection.”