The Gold Coast SUNS are excited to announce the signings of SUNS Academy graduates Alex Davies, Joel Jeffrey, Rhys Nicholls and Aiden Fyfe.

In a momentous day for the club, with four Academy graduates being announced as joining the SUNS ahead of next season, 30% of the overall list will now have come from Queensland or SUNS Academy pathways.

Davies and Jeffrey have been added to the club’s primary list, while Nicholls and Fyfe have been added to the rookie list for the 2021 AFL season.

SUNS National Recruiting Manager Kall Burns said the club’s investment in the Academy program was continuing to provide pathways for talented juniors.

“We remain focused on building the scope and quality of our Academy program and ensuring we provide talented Queensland, Northern Rivers and Northern Territory players with the opportunity to fulfil their aspirations,” Burns said.

“Alex and Joel are terrific examples of the Gold Coast SUNS Academy supporting the development of talented, exciting young players who wish to pursue careers in the AFL.

“Alex is a tall, strong-bodied midfielder who has really impressed us with his attitude and determination. He will be another great addition to our midfield mix.

“Joel is an athletic, attacking half-back, half-forward type and is an exciting player with a dash of flair. He adds something a bit different to our list and is a credit to the Northern Territory talent pathway program.”

Burns said it was also exciting to add two more home-grown players to the list for 2021.

“It’s a testament to the strength of our Academy to see both Rhys and Aiden join the list after coming through the Gold Coast talent pathway,” Burns said.

“Rhys comes from the Labrador Tigers and is a courageous, rebounding half-back with really neat foot skills and elite speed.

“Aiden played for the Broadbeach Cats this year and is a powerful and athletic rebounding defender who can also play on the wing.”

Hailing from Cairns, Davies is a former Under 16 All Australian and represented Australia’s Under 17’s in an ANZAC Day exhibition match in 2019.

Davies said he was thrilled to officially join the club after relocating from Cairns to pursue his football career.

“I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to come to the Gold Coast and it was the right decision in the end,” Davies said.

“I want to have a good pre-season and have the best opportunity to get a game early and earn some respect around the club.”

Jeffrey originates from Darwin and joined the SUNS Academy through the club’s burgeoning partnership with the region. 

“I’m grateful for the opportunity and I’ll definitely take it with two hands and do the most I can to work hard,” Jeffery said.

“I just want to get a spot in the forward line so I’m definitely going to work hard for that and hopefully achieve that and play my first game.”

Nicholls has been in the SUNS Academy since he was 12 and said his time around the club over the years would hold him in good stead for the start of his AFL career.

“I can’t wait for the journey to start and I’m really looking forward to it,” Nicholls said.

“I’ve trained a couple of times and played a few NEAFL games with the boys so I’m looking forward to cracking in with them.”

Fyfe said it was a dream come true to play for the team he grew up supporting.

“I always wanted to play for the SUNS and my family love the SUNS and we’ve grown up here my whole life so I can’t wait,” Fyfe said.

“I just want to show the coaches what I can do and put my best foot forward.” 

As part of the concessions the AFL provided to the SUNS in late 2019, the club was able to promote Academy prospects on the list prior to the NAB AFL Draft. 

Jeffrey becomes the second Darwin-based player to join the club through the Academy program after Malcolm Rosas Jnr (2019), while Davies follows current players Jack Bowes (2016) and Caleb Graham (2018) to join the SUNS from Cairns. 

The club’s new recruits will join the main group for pre-season training on Friday.