Will Graham in action during the match between Gold Coast and Collingwood at People First Stadium in round 16, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

WILL Graham has completed arguably the most exciting 48 hours of his young football life, with a two-year contract extension coming on the same day as a nomination for the Telstra Rising Star award.

Graham was integral to the Suns' 11-point win over Collingwood on Saturday night, a momentous victory in front of a sellout crowd, gathering 22 disposals and kicking a goal on the stroke of half-time in his prominent midfield role.

It continued a fine first season in the red, gold and blue for Graham, now playing nine games since his debut against Greater Western Sydney in Gather Round.

The new deal, as reported by AFL.com.au's Inside Trading last month, keeps Graham at Carrara until at least the end of 2027.

Graduating from the club's Academy last year, the 18-year-old could barely contain his excitement when asked about his day of double delight.

He said the Rising Star was "a bit of appreciation" for his effort this season, while the new deal was a show of faith from the Suns.

"Just knowing the club has got full belief in me for the next few years and have faith in what I'm going to turn into, is so nice," Graham told AFL.com.au.


The No.26 pick from last year's draft trained at half-back during the pre-season, but it soon became obvious to coach Damien Hardwick that Graham's real strengths lied in winning the contested ball.

Against the Magpies he contested 13 centre bounces, spending plenty of time alongside Noah Anderson, Sam Flanders and Matt Rowell. 

So trusted was Graham that co-captain Touk Miller went into the middle for just 10 centre bounces, regularly deployed as a half-forward that charged into the middle to help outnumber.

Will Graham celebrates a goal during the match between Gold Coast and Collingwood at People First Stadium in round 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Graham is rugged and combative and clearly has the support of his teammates.

"Those players are special and have been so good for so long and to know they're putting belief in me and trust in me is awesome," he said.

"Touk and Noz (Anderson) have been really helpful with learning structures and running patterns. Rowelly has been good with the details, the craft. The whole midfield group have all been so helpful."

Graham is the Suns' third nominee of 2024, joining Jake Rogers (round seven) and Bodhi Uwland (round 12).


2024 Telstra AFL Rising Star nominees

OR: Matt Roberts (Sydney)
R1: Ollie Dempsey (Geelong)
R2: George Wardlaw (North Melbourne)
R3: Harvey Gallagher (Western Bulldogs)
R4: Sam Darcy (Western Bulldogs)
R5: Harley Reid (West Coast)
R6: Darcy Wilson (St Kilda)
R7: Jake Rogers (Gold Coast)
R8: Caleb Windsor (Melbourne)
R9: Colby McKercher (North Melbourne)
R10: Kai Lohmann (Brisbane)
R11: Harvey Harrison (Collingwood)
R12: Bodhi Uwland (Gold Coast)
R13: Luke Nankervis (Adelaide)
R14: Harvey Thomas (Greater Western Sydney)
R15: Logan Morris (Brisbane)
R16: Will Graham (Gold Coast)