The Gold Coast SUNS will blood another SUNS Academy product into the AFL with electric key forward Joel Jeffrey set to face the Demons on Saturday afternoon.
The exciting Darwin product will become the club’s second debutant of 2021 after a string of impressive performances in the VFL.
Jeffrey, who debuted in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) and earned a Rising Star nomination at just 16-years-old, was drafted in 2020 as an Academy Zone pick alongside fellow up-and-comer Alex Davies and has taken charge of the SUNS VFL forward line in recent weeks.
Following on from three-goal and five-goal hauls in a VFL fixture against the GWS Giants and practice match against the Sydney Swans respectively, the 19-year-old raised the bar again with a nine-goal haul in a best-on-ground performance in last week’s demolition of Aspley.
Despite standing at 192cm, the 19-year-old boasts elite athleticism and versatility whilst also being able to dominate in the air and shows no sign of fear taking on AFL opposition – he has kicked three separate three-goal hauls against the Swans, GIANTS and Brisbane Lions already in 2021.
He’s also shown a cool and collected head under pressure, slotting a goal on the full-time siren to see the SUNS VFL squad pip the Swans by three points earlier this season.
“It’s a great moment for Joel and for the club,” Senior Coach Stuart Dew said.
“He obviously had an outstanding game on the weekend, and he’s had multiple shots at goal for a number of weeks now, but just the way he’s been playing has impressed us and he’s put in a fantastic body of work.
“All of us have loved how he’s attacked coming into the full-time environment. It’s not easy to move away from family but from Day 1 he’s really put his head down and done the work.
“He’s always in here working on his craft whether it’s marking, goal kicking or game knowledge, he’s very, very coachable.
“He’s formidable when he’s on the lead and he’s tough to match up on because he’s quite good on the ground as well.”
Jeffrey will also become the second Northern Territory product to debut for the SUNS in 2021, following Malcolm Rosas Jnr.
“There’s a pathway – we want to continue to foster that relationship. The lads up there want to be role models for their mates back home,” Dew added.
“It’s a great moment for the NT as well to have some guys debuting [in 2021] from the Territory.”