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AFL legends' huge raps on Suns' Jack

Jack Martin highlights Jack Martin highlights
Jack Martin of the Suns in action during the 2013 NAB Cup round 02 match between the Gold Coast Suns and the North Melbourne Kangaroos at Tony Ireland Stadium, Townsville. (Photo: Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Untried Sun Jack Martin has already drawn huge praise from several legends of the game
This is going to be one hell of a player
Malcolm Blight
FOR A KID with just a handful of games in the NEAFL under his belt, the wraps on Jack Martin are incredible.

Throwing an 18-year-old without a senior game a five-year contract may appear a risk to many, but according to those in the know - it's a very wise investment.

AFL legend Malcolm Blight said the first tape he saw of Martin was the best he'd ever seen.

"Jack's got it all," Blight said. "Size doesnt matter for him. I've already seen him take on 6'9, 6'10 blokes and tackle them. This is going to be one hell of a player."

Listed at 185cm and 71kg, Martin is a package triple-premiership player and Norm Smith medallist Shaun Hart likened to a combination of three former Brisbane Lions teammates from the early 2000s.

"If I talk about some Lions players I'd say he's got the gut run and courage of Nigel Lappin, he's got the fearlessness of Michael Voss and the amazing elite skill and ability to mark the ball of a Daryl White," Hart said.

I'm not sure if he'll be the elite mark that Daryl White was but I don't think he'll be far off."

Hart, the Gold Coast reserves coach, has worked closely with Martin since the teenager came to the Suns via the GWS mini-draft last October.

He said the most notable trait the youngster possesses is his willingness to work hard, run both ways and throw himself into contests.

"Normally you'll get someone with skill and flair and offensive talent, but when you get someone with a far greater package of the other part of the game, that's when you know you've got a player who will live the values of your footy club off and on the field," Hart said.

Hart's former teammate Simon Black played against Martin in a reserves match in Mackay last week.

Black had heard a bit about the young kid from Geraldton and saw him from the grandstand a few weeks before lining up against him.

"The first time he got the ball he stepped around a couple of guys and I thought, 'wow, he's special'," Black said.

"He's obviously got that natural flair and beautifully gifted running gait, but he looks really keen and really eager to get constantly involved in the game, that's what I liked about him."

Black lost none of his initial praise after standing alongside him on the field last week.

"He seems really desperate around the ball to make that ball his own and that was pretty striking," he said.

"He wasn't holding back because of the bigger bodies at all, he was really ripping in, and on the outside you wouldn't get a much smoother user and runner of the ball than him."

Suns list manager Scott Clayton said the entire Martin package, which includes a humble young man who is always thirsty for improvement, was too good to pass up with a short-term deal.

He said the Suns were quickly in discussions with his management to extend his initial three-year deal to take it to the end of 2017.

"We've been watching Jack Martin play for three years, we've gone to Geraldton quite a few times to do some homework and know everything we can, on the proviso we may or may not be able to do a deal," Clayton said.

"Then the GWS mini draft happened and the whole competition was trying to get him and we managed to do that. It's going to be a great ride and to have that commitment from both of us, it's been a whirlwind couple of years.

"As much as he hasn't got a strong body, I've never seen him pushed off the ball ever.

"He's just got this inner drive and fearlessness to compete. He tackles and he chases and his defensive stuff … he just won't let the game go past him, he wants to be involved in every second."

Like Jaeger O'Meara before him, Martin is too young to play in the AFL  this season, and the Suns will nurse him through the NEAFL with 12 or 13 of their 18 matches.

Hart said it was all groomed to getting him primed for round one, 2014 – and many, many years beyond.

Michael Whiting covers Gold Coast news for AFL.com.au. Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_mikewhiting
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs