GOLD Coast has locked in gun young defender Charlie Ballard until the end of 2025, with the 21-year-old signing a four-year contract extension. 

Since being taken at pick No.42 in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, Ballard has developed into one of the most promising key defenders in the competition, playing 48 games in his three seasons. 

He was seventh in the AFL for intercept marks in 2020 and formed a reliable key pairing with best and fairest winner Sam Collins. 

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"It’s awesome to be able to secure my future at the Suns and sign on long-term," Ballard said. 

"I love living on the Gold Coast and playing for the Suns … it was a pretty easy decision in the end."

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Ballard has developed a nice mix between intercept marking and one-on-one negating and is a cornerstone of the Suns' defensive unit, particularly with veteran Rory Thompson to miss much of next season with an ACL injury. 

The South Australian joins a long list of Suns to commit long-term, with 2019 draftees Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson and Connor Budarick all extending deals this year.

Gold Coast begins pre-season training on Monday.