It’s taken Matt Rowell just two rounds to win an AFL Rising Star nomination and it seems only unforeseen circumstances could prevent the Gold Coast young gun claiming the individual prize at season’s end.
The No.1 draft pick produced a performance for the ages with 26 disposals and two goals to inspire the Suns to one of the best wins in club history as they upset flag fancies West Coast on Saturday night.
In doing so, Rowell upstaged a host of Eagles premiership stars and also received the maximum 10 votes in the AFL Coaches’ Association player of the year award.
Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew wasn’t at all surprised with the strongly-built 18-year-old’s superb display, and informed Rowell of his Rising Star nomination in front of teammates on Monday.
“We’re not surprised,” Dew said post-match at Metricon Stadium.
“I’ll say it, I think I’ll get sick of saying it, but we love that we’ve got him.
“He just loves footy. He’ll eat up anything that you give him in terms of footy.
“He just wants to impact the game for the team. We all love that he’s so humble. The work he puts in is pretty special.”
Dew is so confident in Rowell’s capabilities that he had no qualms about using the youngster as a direct replacement for suspended co-captain David Swallow against West Coast’s battle-hardened midfield.
“We started him in the centre bounce,” Dew said.
“It wasn’t a gesture to get him into the game, we thought he could influence from the start.”
Rowell will again be important to Gold Coast’s chances of winning when they host Queensland hub-bound Adelaide at Metricon Stadium on Sunday.