Though Gold Coast has some of the finest young players in the competition, the Suns’ list features just one number one draft pick. Who is it?
If you guessed Jaeger O’Meara, you’re a little off. O’Meara was taken as a 17-year-old in the 2011 mini-draft.
Jack Martin? Same again – he was picked a year later in the 2012 mini-draft.
The answer is David Swallow, who has turned out three consistently solid seasons since being selected with the first pick in the 2010 National Draft.
It feels as though he’s been around for a long time, but in reality Swallow is yet to have his 21st birthday. There’s still plenty of time for him to become one of the game’s elite midfielders, particularly when you consider the lifestyle adjustments he’s had to make throughout his short career.
“Initially I was a bit hesitant [about joining the Suns], to be honest,” Swallow admits.
“I had just finished school and had a lot of close mates back home, and still do. But I came up and saw the vision the club had and thought any other 17-year-old in this position would take it, so I took it and moved up here a couple of weeks later.”
Though Swallow’s first season with the Suns was impressive – he played 21 games, averaging a touch under 20 possessions per match – he admits he mightn’t have been completely prepared to adapt to life as an AFL footballer.
“I was a year younger than Andrew was when he moved over to Melbourne,” he explains.
“Individually we’ve got different personalities and have faced different challenges in life. It’s probably taken me two or three years to work out who I am. I moved away that year earlier and didn’t have Mum and Dad. I missed them a fair bit, and adapting to life with no parents, living out of home… until you do it, you don’t know how you’re going to go, I guess.”
While the Swallow brothers have become competitors on the field, the younger sibling still draws inspiration from his older brother.
“He’s been a bit of an idol growing up,” he admits.
“In his fourth year he kind of came from nowhere and had a really good year. He hasn’t really looked back since. I think he’s got a lot of confidence in the way he plays, and what he brings to North Melbourne as a player and a person.”
Thankfully for Gold Coast fans, coach Guy McKenna sees plenty of similarities between the two brothers and anticipates David will perform at a similar level to his brother in years to come.
“I think Andrew, probably partway through his career, has shown his ability to win the hard ball and contested ball is almost second to none. He’s had numbers of 16 and 18 clearances in games. He can rack them up,” McKenna points out.
“I would think in two or three years when Junior gets to Andrew’s age, he’ll probably be doing the same as well, because they’re both very combative footballers.”
While Suns fans get excited about the likes of Jack Martin, Kade Kolodjashnij and Jaeger O’Meara – who has already drawn plenty of attention entering his second AFL season – David Swallow may be ready to take the next step and become one of the game’s elite midfielders. In a team full of young stars, he’s certainly one worth keeping an eye on.