If you’re tipping Jack Martin to be a star of the future, you’re not alone.
Following the 20-year-old’s performance for the Indigenous All Stars, triple-premiership player Shaun Burgoyne described the Gold Coast youngster as “a special player” set for “a long career”.
“When I first rocked up, I saw the sheet and saw I was rooming with Goodesy… I didn’t know what to think” – Jack Martin
There are plenty of others expecting big things of the talented 185cm midfielder – the powers that be at Gold Coast clearly among them, having signed Martin for five seasons early in 2013, before he’d even made his AFL debut.
It’s impossible to know whether Martin will become the star of the game many expect, but it’s certain he’s made a valuable connection with one of the game’s greats, should he ever need to call on him for advice.
At last week’s AFL Players’ Indigenous Camp, each young player was assigned an older opponent as a roommate. Martin’s eyes lit up when he saw who he was bunking with.
“When I first rocked up, I saw the sheet and saw I was rooming with Goodesy… I didn’t know what to think,” Martin says with a smile. “He’s been pretty cool.”
The pair had met once previously, something Martin says made the experience a little less intimidating. While Goodes is a huge figure in the game, Martin adds – perhaps surprisingly – that “he’s actually a pretty quiet guy.”
“He doesn’t talk too much, but it’s been good to room with one of the legends of the game. I’ve learnt a lot.
“He’s taught me about leadership. He knows what he wants and speaks up for what he thinks is right. He’s a great leader around the boys and someone I definitely look up to and want to be like.”
— ABC News 24 (@ABCNews24) January 25, 2015
While rooming with Goodes was certainly a highlight of the camp, Martin says the 2014 Australian of the Year certainly wasn’t the only player he learnt from throughout the week.
“I think it’s very important getting all the boys together. The camp only happens every second year.
“There are some big wraps on Jack and you can see why Gold Coast were so keen to wrap him up for a few years” – Shaun Burgoyne
“I hadn’t met most of the boys, so being able to see the boys from the other states, mingling with them, learning about their lives and where they’ve come from, I think it’s great.”
The camp also provided Martin with an opportunity to share his own story and background.
“I’m from Broome,” Martin explains.
“My Mum’s side is the Yawuru people and my dad’s from down south, the Yamatji people.”
Martin relished the chance to represent his people as part of the All Stars match; captain Shaun Burgoyne was quick to praise Martin after the game.
“There are some big wraps on Jack and you can see why Gold Coast were so keen to wrap him up for a few years,” Burgoyne said.
“He’s quite mature and composed, and has a lot of upside considering he’s only 20.”
Terms like ‘upside’, ‘potential’ and ‘future star’ will continue to be bandied around whenever Martin is mentioned – you only need to watch highlights of his four-goal performance in the Suns’ final match of 2014 to see why – but his level-headed approach to life and footy will hold him in good stead to deal with whatever pressure comes his way.
“Jack’s a fantastic kid,” Goodes reflected after his final night rooming with Martin at Indigenous Camp.
“Those chats that we’ve been able to have, being able to share that extra time together has been priceless. I know I got a lot out of it and hope he did as well.”