Gold Coast youngster Adam Saad has been named the Rising Star nominee for Round 5.
The first-year defender produced the best game of his five-match career on Saturday, in the club’s first win of the season against Queensland rivals Brisbane.
The 20-year-old was rewarded for his 26 disposals (20 uncontested), four rebound 50s and nine running bounces during the side’s comprehensive 64-point win over the Lions at Metricon Stadium.
Saad was selected via the rookie list at the end of 2014 and was elevated to the senior list after strong form during the pre-season competition.
He has played every game for the Suns this year, averaging 17.4 possessions a match and leading the competition for bounces with 22 for the season.
— AFL (@AFL) May 4, 2015
Overlooked in the previous three national drafts, the mature-age rookie enjoyed a solid season with VFL side Coburg in 2014, winning the club’s best and fairest and being named in the VFL team of the year while averaging 19 disposals a match.
Speaking at the post-match press conference, Gold Coast forward Charlie Dixon praised the speed his teammate has brought to the club since arriving.
“’Saady’ is amazing the way he just takes the game on. He is lightning quick. He catches us off-guard sometimes because he is that quick but he opens the game up, catches the opposition defenders off-guard and our mids can get out in the open side and give us more entries inside 50,” Dixon said.
“He catches us off-guard sometimes because he is that quick” – Charlie Dixon
Suns coach Rodney Eade also said post-game Saad’s apprenticeship in the lower leagues only enhanced his development. Eade knew the Victorian was something special from day one.
“As an industry, kids come into the competition when they’re 18 and 19, it takes a while, they’re learning on the job, and they’re not mature enough. Whereas he’s coming in as a 20-year-old, playing in the VFL with Coburg and obviously had good tutelage playing against men, so that helps him but I am a bit surprised that he’s adapted really well,” Eade said.
“From his first training session you could tell he was going to add something to the team. He just needs to get used to playing AFL footy, which is going to take a bit of time as well.
“I thought tonight he actually ran the game out really well. Some other ones he got a bit fatigued towards the end but his fitness is improving all the time.
“He’s a very good mark and very good one-on-one but we always say it’s 30 to 40 games before you understand what footy is about. He’s only played five games so he might be a little bit up and down but he’s certainly been a plus for us.”
Saad is the tenth Gold Coast player to be nominated for the award since their inception into the competition in 2011, with teammate Jaeger O’Meara winning the award in 2013.