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Martin hype begins again as Suns let talent loose

Michael Whiting  February 4, 2015 10:01 PM

AFL 2014 NAB Challenge - Gold Coast v Essendon

Jack Martin shone brightest as the Suns tuned-up for the NAB Challenge


His poise and rare combination of flair and hard work was on show for all to see

HE'S ONE of the youngest, he's one of the lightest and he's one of the quietest. But Jack Martin is also one of the best.

In many ways, Wednesday's match-simulation at Gold Coast training was just another run-of-the-mill pre-season session.

Fantasy Face-off: Jack Martin v Josh Kelly

A game of three thirds, players going to close to flat-out – but not quite – and those in rehab watching from the sidelines.

But in so many other ways, it taught you a lot about the young Suns squad.

And the number one lesson was that Martin could have the highest ceiling of any of the Suns' exciting young brigade.

That may not be earth-shattering news to those that have watched the young West Australian closely, but his class and poise shone like a beacon in the warm Carrara sun.

Martin, who turned 20 last week, was as hyped as any teenager prior to his debut in round one against Richmond last season.

However, with his entire family over from the west, he lasted barely five minutes before dislocating his shoulder.

Surgery for ruckman Dixon

Martin battled back to play the final 10 games of 2014, capping his year with a sensational four-goal showing in a heavy loss to West Coast in round 23.

It was just a glimpse of what the lightly-framed half-forward could do.

On Wednesday at Metricon Stadium, the handful of journalists, Suns coaching staff and teammates got another look at his boundless talent.

Let's not kid ourselves, it was a 'game' against his own teammates where the pressure was about three notches lower than it will be in round one, but his poise and rare combination of flair and hard work was on show for all to see.

First it was a half-volley pick-up off his bootlaces in traffic, and handpass all in one motion.

Minutes later he seemed cornered at a clearance, before a side-step and swerve put him clear. He then seemingly had eyes in the back of his head to avoid a chasing opponent with a swivel of the hips.

Martin also hit leading forwards with pinpoint passes. He must have racked up double figure touches during the first 15 minutes alone.

Yet the most impressive thing about him was his willingness to chase defensively – even at training. 

While Harley Bennell gave him a close run as the best player out there, Martin was a joy to watch.

He's added five kilograms to his wiry physique in the past few months – at least half of those in his legs – and appears to be even more at home amongst the senior bodies.

Entering his second season and with just 11 games to his name, Martin is likely to have as many downs as ups as ruthless opposition teams put more time into him.

But it's hard to not get excited when this kind of talent looks ready to blossom.