Having dominated the Under 18 scene in 2019, Matt Rowell was taken by the Suns as pick 1 in the NAB AFL National Draft and arrived on the Gold Coast carrying enormous expectations. Remarkably, he managed to exceed all of them in less than a month of football. The AFL world can't wait to see what's next.
Matt’s AFL journey began as so many do – at his local NAB Auskick Centre in Melbourne’s inner east. He stood out as early as Under 10’s at his local footy club, the Canterbury Cobras, and was an elite junior right throughout his teens, debuting for the Oakleigh Chargers in the Under 18 competition just a month after his 16th birthday.
Coming from a tight knit family with two sisters, he studied at Carey Grammar and handled the growing expectations around his football in 2019 with apparent ease as he starred in premierships for his school and the Chargers, while also dominating for Vic Metro at the NAB Under 18 Championships to earn All Australian selection.
Rowell was an unbackable favourite to be selected at pick 1 in the 2019 NAB National Draft and the Gold Coast Suns couldn’t call his name quickly enough.
Matt made an immediate impact at AFL level, seamlessly slotting into the Gold Coast program and earning an opening round AFL debut in 2020.
Despite playing just five senior games, he quickly proved the hype to be true as he collected a Rising Star nomination with a 26 disposal, 2 goal performance in his second game. He would go on to earn 9 of a possible 12 Brownlow votes in the four full matches he completed prior to a dislocated shoulder which ended his stellar rookie season in Round 5.
But it was his ongoing hands-on involvement and contribution to the Suns after that crushing disappointment that reinforced Rowell’s unique character. He became a fixture on the Gold Coast bench as an Opposition Analyst – headset on, listening, learning, instructing and helping however possible as he sought to improve himself and his team.
It’s that maturity, relentless pursuit of improvement and sheer appetite for the game that has AFL experts convinced we are witnessing a star in the making. A young man with all the necessary football ability with the mental drive and work ethic to maximise that talent.
It’s an impressive combination and one which AFL fans will watch with great interest and excitement in the seasons to come.
A keen student of the game, Rowell enjoys learning about all aspects of professional football and soaks up as much knowledge as possible from being in an elite AFL environment on a daily basis.
Away from football, he is an equally keen gardener!
Matt is an ASICS ambassador.