IZAK Rankine will take his highlight reel into the midfield in 2021, with Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew set to unleash the exciting youngster around the contest more often.
After persistent hamstring problems robbed him of a debut in 2018, Rankine made up for lost time last season, kicking 12 goals from 12 games and dazzling fans with his cheeky demeanour and exhilarating play.
Speaking to AFL.com.au, Dew said although the 20-year-old would remain predominantly in the forward line, he was too creative to play exclusively close to goal.
"Although at the time a lot of people thought we were drafting an exciting forward pocket, we thought we were drafting a very, very good footballer that could play in the midfield and go forward," Dew said.
"We also think he can be a lot more consistent than perhaps what people think, and less of the highlight reel and more consistently influencing passages of play.
"He'll definitely push up into the midfield at different times because he seems to create things when he's around the ball."
Rankine is enjoying a stellar third pre-season, in the top five at the club's most recent 2km time trial, and a menace during match simulation sessions.
"We won't be able to take any credit for what Izak does," Dew said.
"He puts himself in the right spots a lot of the time and it's really hard to teach that."
Rankine won't be the only top-end draft pick getting more midfield minutes this season, with Noah Anderson the Suns' pre-season standout.
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Anderson played all 17 games last season and finished second in the NAB Rising Star award, used primarily on the wing before going more 'inside' in the final month.
Dew said Gold Coast now had some genuine depth to throw around the contest.
"[Noah's] done the whole summer inside," Dew said.
"He's got poise, he's really clean with the footy. We're excited by that.
"We've been planning on (building midfield depth) and drafting towards it.
"If you look at the teams that are flexible, so that if things aren't working, you can change them, or if certain individuals are getting shut down, you've got a couple of different levers to pull."