Rory Thompson, a foundation Gold Coast player, has been with the club since its inception and is about to run out in an AFL game for the 100th time. Matt Shaw played alongside Thompson for nine years and the pair formed a close bond. Here, Shaw shares his experiences with tall, quirky Suns defender.
A good mate of mine, Rory Thompson, plays his 100th AFL game this weekend and there wouldn’t be many who are more deserving.
He’s always been a big unit, Rory. It’s hard not to notice his massive frame but that large body doesn’t match his reserved interior.
He’s shy, reserved and doesn’t say a lot. We’re somewhat similar in that regard, although he’s probably the quieter of the two of us.
Because of that, it took us three years of playing together before we realised that we actually have a lot in common and our friendship really prospered.
Around three years into our AFL careers, the club sent us down to a World Surfing League event, where they presented the champions with their trophies. Rory, Nathan Bock and I went along and that’s when we realised that we shared similar interests.
Surfing and fishing became our favourite pastimes and for the next five years, all I did outside the club on our day off was fish and surf with Rory.
Fishing was a big thing for us. My favourite memory with Rory was our last fishing trip together in 2017 at Stanage Bay searching for giant trevally.
Now I’ve taught him a few things over the years because he wasn’t much of a fisherman when I first met him. He was more of a bait fisherman and I helped him transition into lures and other things so I like to take credit for his catches.
But on this occasion he failed to reel one in. We didn’t catch anything on the first day but I caught one on day two and another soon after.
Rory was absolutely filthy. It gets pretty competitive out there. But that trip is one of the best memories I have. It was just Rory and I, no phone reception, against the elements for a week, which got a bit interesting at times.
We busted a wheel baring on the way up and had a few things happen that we learnt a lot from — it was a lot of fun.
Rory’s journey certainly hasn’t been easy. He started his career as a forward before moving down back. What a success that was early days. In 2013, the Suns were flying and Rory played a big part in that.
But injuries eventually got hold of him. I’ve never had many injuries so I couldn’t completely comprehend what he was going through but I remember how professional he was in trying to get himself right again.
He’d come in on days off to get extra massages and things like that so I definitely take my hat off to him because it’s been a rough run at times.
It’s taken him eight years to get to the milestone but he would’ve got there a lot quicker than me had he stayed injury free.
The best part of playing together was having that mateship outside of footy as well and being able to take that onto the ground.
He was a defender and I was a winger so we tended to help each other out a lot. I’d run back and fill the hole for him and he’d always be there to protect me. We’d go the extra mile for one another.
Some of my favourite on-field memories are just all the times we got to run out together, it was a special feeling because we were such good mates off the field as well.
As mentioned, Rory’s super shy but when he opens up, he’s a genuine guy, really loyal and would do anything for you — he was in my wedding party last year, which was a very special occasion.
He’s a big family man. He always spoke about his dad, Brett, who played for Southport, and his sister Paige, who’s just had a baby — Rory’s an uncle now.
He keeps most things close to his chest and only lets those who are close to him in. I’m pretty lucky to be one of them.
He’s very methodical and precise about the things he does. If you looked at his Instagram, you’ll find that he’s very unique. I love his quirkiness — he enjoys doing random stuff like going to a museum or something like that every now and then.
He’s a random unit. But he’s a great fellow who’ll do anything for you.
Congratulations on the 100 games, Rory!