AAP AFL

Suns young gun itching for big AFL year

By AAP Newswire

His first season as an AFL player was full of frustration, but highly-touted Gold Coast youngster Izak Rankine's injury curse has become a blessing.

Rankine gave everyone a taste of his potential with some eye-catching pre-season displays for the Suns in 2019 before being sidelined with a hamstring injury.

He then suffered a setback midway through the year and wound up managing just three matches with the reserves.

The 19-year-old featured for the Suns in a practice match against Brisbane at Metricon last weekend and makes no secret of his ambition to make his long-awaited AFL debut in round one against Port Adelaide on March 21.

To get there he believes the months spent on the sideline last year have actually made put him in better shape physically than he was when he arrived at the Suns.

"I feel stronger than anyone else," Rankine told AAP.

"Through rehab I really strengthened my whole body. I had to do a lot of things off field - learn how to control my body, manage my body properly and recover as a professional athlete.

"I guess I can be happy that I had it early on in my career. I can learn a bit about my body, just get stronger, get fitter, and come back even better than if I played last year round one.

"Hopefully it's set me up for a good long career."

The Adelaide product says it was good to "blow out the cobwebs" against the Lions and will be hoping to get more game time when the Suns host Geelong at Metricon Stadium in their opening pre-season fixture.

And if he is feeling the weight of expectation after months of people raving about how much potential he has, he isn't showing it.

"I think I dealt with it pretty well. Moving to the Gold Coast there's a bit less light on you so you can live your own life and play AFL footy as well," he said.

"I'm excited to play and can't wait to get the opportunity to show everyone what I can do."