Suns’ moment of clarity sets up Rowell for records

Murray Wenzel |

Jack Lukosius (right) has high praise for Gold Coast teammate Matt Rowell (left).
Jack Lukosius (right) has high praise for Gold Coast teammate Matt Rowell (left).

Jack Lukosius expects teammate Matt Rowell to become the AFL’s clearance king under Damien Hardwick after things went “a bit too perfectly” to begin the coach’s Gold Coast reign.

The Suns led by a club-record 61 points at halftime against Richmond, the club Hardwick won three flags at before suddenly quitting last year.

Eleven consecutive Suns goals flowed in the first half, Lukosius kicking three of those, before a Tigers rally stemmed the bleeding in an eventual 39-point victory.

Ben King equalled his career-best haul of five goals while prime mover Rowell had 33 touches and a staggering 20 clearances, 10 of those from the centre bounce.

Only Hawthorn’s Paul Salmon has collected more in AFL history when he tallied 22 clearances in a 33-touch game as the Hawks beat North Melbourne by two points in 1998.

“Far out,” Lukosius told AAP of Rowell’s numbers that earned him a maximum 10 votes in the AFL Coaches Association’s champion player award race.

“He’ll probably break that record soon.

“He’s been working hard and a few blokes write him off, but if anyone’s going to win it it’s going to be him.

“We saw how hard it is when you don’t get the ball moving forward in the preseason; guys like him are so important because when he’s on then Kingy’s going to be on.”

The Suns host Adelaide on Saturday, with Lukosius hopeful they can show more of Hardwick’s system after the first-half clinic against the Tigers.

“It went a bit too perfectly in that first half; it kind of felt like Dimma’s PowerPoint slides were just out on the oval,” he said.

“We’d had it for maybe one-minute patches in the preseason.

“It just shows that when we’re all working towards the same thing at the same time, anything can happen.”

Meanwhile, fit-again Wil Powell has added four years to his contract at the Suns, with the half-back now on the books until at least 2029.

It comes less than a month after the birth of his first child.

The 24-year-old was as impressive as Rowell against Richmond, earning eight coaches’ votes for his 28 disposals, that included 11 intercepts and six score involvements.

Injuries have kept him to just 88 games since a debut midway through the 2018 season.

“The extension takes me until I’m 29 years old which is crazy to think about. If they told me that I would be drafted and play until I was 29, and hopefully more, I would have laughed,” he said.

“I’ve worked hard to get here and I’ve had great support from my family, my partner and especially the club.”