The Gold Coast SUNS secured the top player in the country on Tuesday night, selecting prodigious talent Charlie Rowbottom with the first pick in the 2021 NAB AFLW Draft.

Rowbottom turned heads last week, as she opted to name Queensland as her preferred draft pool. This gave the SUNS priority access to the talented teenager, an opportunity the club used to full effect.

The Victorian native was a standout in last year’s Under 19 program, being named in the 2021 NAB AFLW All-Australian team and selected for the NAB AFLW Academy.

At 179cm, Rowbottom is set to add a physical presence to the SUNS midfield, whilst also providing the team with a damaging option in the forward 50.

Speaking after her selection on Tuesday night, Rowbottom spoke about her potential impact on the field this season after discussions with AFLW Head Coach Cameron Joyce and Head of Women’s Football Fiona Sessarago.

“We talked about how they can help me and how I can help them,” Rowbottom said.

“They showed me some footage of how I could fit into the team.”

Rowbottom will look to bolster a midfield that already includes the likes of Hannah Dunn, Ali Drennan and Jamie Stanton. She says that she will look to relish the opportunity to learn from the experience around her.

“I’m really keen to learn as much as I can and soak in as much as I can, when I get up there and learn from those experienced players,” Rowbottom said.

“I’ll learn from players who aren’t like me and players who are like me to better myself and better my footy because I have got a lot of improvement to go.”

Having played in the forward half in patches for Vic Metro last year, Rowbottom is prepared to play a team-first role. Speaking on her possible position for next year, Rowbottom said.

“Wherever I fit in the team but I am a keen midfielder but I don’t mind rolling up forward.”

At only 18-years old, Rowbottom has just begun a university degree, studying a Bachelor of Arts at Melbourne University.

Despite being drafted to the SUNS, Rowbottom wants to keep all her options open and says she will continue to study whilst playing for the SUNS.

“Life outside of footy is a big focus for me, which is why I try not to centre my whole life around one thing,” Rowbottom said.

“So, uni is very important to me, this year especially now that AFLW is rolling in.

“It’s online so it’s pretty easy to do while I’m up there, which is good.”

Having been a big part of the NAB AFLW Academy in 2020, Rowbottom has already made connections with fellow draftees, Ashanti Bush and Tegan Levi, while she is also excited to link up with Giselle Davies.

“I have met Ashanti and Teagan before because of the AFLW Academy, which is great so there is a few familiar faces in the team,” Rowbottom said.

“It will help to make the transition a little bit easier for me.”

Pre-season for the SUNS 2022 NAB AFLW campaign kicks off in early September.