Sam Clohesy celebrates a goal with Ben King during the R4 match between Gold Coast and GWS at Adelaide Hills on April 7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

GOLD Coast winger Sam Clohesy made the early wake-up call in South Africa for his mother and extended family well worth their while with a stunning debut on Sunday.

Despite the Suns being beaten by Greater Western Sydney at Mount Barker, the 21-year-old made a terrific fist of his first senior game, notching a club-record 22 disposals on AFL debut to go with eight marks and a clever goal.

It was another step on a winding road for Clohesy that has seen him part of Gold Coast's Academy for three years, spend two years with Werribee in the VFL, and ultimately hit the AFL as a mature-age recruit.

His mother Julie was unable to be at her son's debut in person after booking a trip to her homeland to visit family, but did the next best thing.

"She paid the subscription to watch the game at four in the morning and all the cousins got up, the grandparents (got up) to watch it," Clohesy said with a smile.

"It was pretty special having them see it."


And he didn't disappoint, as one of three new faces to excel alongside Will Graham and Ethan Read in a revamped team.

Following a whirlwind week, Clohesy admitted there were times he thought his AFL dream had passed.

"I didn't want to let it go," he said.

"It's how life is, if you don't get drafted you've got to go and get yourself a job, but I still wanted to play high-level footy, which is why I chose Werribee.

"Once I won that Fothergill (-Round-Mitchell Medal for best under-24 VFL player last year) I thought 'I am a shot here'.

"I'm still in awe of the fact I'm on an AFL list and get to do this for a job. I'm going to treasure it."

Ethan Read, Sam Clohesy and Will Graham pose for a photo before Gold Coast's clash against Greater Western Sydney in round four, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Clohesy heaped praise on teammates Brayden Fiorini and Brandon Ellis – essentially the man he replaced – for helping him to understand the demands of the wing role under Damien Hardwick's system.

"You're off by a metre on the wing and you're completely in the wrong spot, so he's (Ellis) helped me heaps in that," he said.

"I don't want to come in for two weeks and go back. I've got a taste now and I don't want to let it go. I want to be in there every week."