It’s been a record-breaking week for SUNS draftee Matt Rowell.
Playing in just his second game of AFL football on the weekend, Rowell was a catalyst in the midfield for Gold Coast, driving the team towards its first win since Round 4, 2019 in stunning fashion over West Coast.
His starring role in the victory, where he amassed 26 disposals, seven tackles and two goals, saw him named as the Round 2 NAB AFL Rising Star nominee.
“It’s awesome to get recognised like that with the Rising Star,” Rowell said.
“I was just really proud of the boys on Saturday night to get the win, I was fortunate enough to play my role and I was just happy to do that.”
Rowell’s individual performance was the best-ever recorded by Champion Data for an 18-year-old, with his 171 ranking points eclipsing the previous best of Toby Greene’s 166 points in 2012.
He also broke the record for the fewest games to poll a perfect 10 in the AFL Coaches’ votes.
Rowell said it never clicked on the field just how well he was doing, instead he only had eyes for where his next possession would come from.
“To be honest I was just out there playing footy,” he said.
“It doesn’t really come to you in one moment where you go I’m doing well here, I was just focussing on playing good footy throughout the whole game.
“I was just doing everything that I could for the team.”
It was no easy task for the 18-year-old in his second game.
He started the match in the centre square, opposing what is arguably the best midfield group in the competition in the Eagles.
But Rowell showed he could match it with the best in the eye-catching best-on-ground display.
“I felt comfortable out there on Saturday night,” he said.
“Going up against West Coast, we knew it was going to be a great challenge and that was the good thing about it, they’re a really good side and they have been for a long time.
“So it’s good to see where we’re at, especially for us midfielders, we’ll take a lot of belief out of that.”
His efforts in Round 2 has seen the 2019 pick 1 receive praise from across the league.
There have been plenty of comparisons drawn to current and former champions of the game, but Rowell says he wants to control his own narrative alongside the SUNS’ other core group of young stars.
“Obviously you take a bit of what other players have been able to do in their early years,” he said.
“But I’d like to write my own story myself.
“We can actually bring success to this club which hasn’t been done before so it’s a real motivating factor.”
With the recognition also comes added pressure, but Rowell wasn’t fazed by the prospect of drawing more attention from the opposition after his match-winning performance on Saturday.
“People will start to know a bit more about you after you’ve played a few games,” he said.
“But nothing will change from my end the way I go about it. I’ll keep hunting the footy and just keep playing my game, so nothing really changes.”