FOUR players, one list spot. A budding player agent, a personal trainer and two exciting teenagers from South Australia. That's the situation at Gold Coast right now ahead of the pre-season supplemental selection deadline in March. 

Former top-10 pick Nathan Freeman arrived at Metricon Stadium prior to Christmas as he looks to reignite his AFL dream after three years out of the system, while mature-age SANFL ball magnet James Tsitas, Glenelg half-back Lewis Rayson and Sturt forward Morgan Ferrers have all landed in Queensland this month. 

The Suns have also expressed interest in Northern Territorian Ronald Fejo jnr, but the wingman has opted to train with Essendon at this time, after impressing for West Adelaide in the SANFL reserves last season.

Prospects are permitted to train with multiple clubs across the summer if they are invited by more than one club, meaning Fejo jnr could still spend time in Carrara before the deadline.

Nathan Freeman training with Gold Coast on December 15, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

Gold Coast list manager Craig Cameron has until March 9 to make a decision and is expected to give all four most of the pre-season to press their cases.

While Freeman looms as one of the feelgood stories of the AFL's decision to increase player movement opportunities in late 2018, the 26-year-old isn't the only mature-age pick Gold Coast is taking a good, hard look at this summer.

In fact, Freeman isn't the only 26-year-old Stuart Dew is scrutinising right now. Tsitas arrived in the sunshine state at the start of the year and started training on January 8 with Ferres and Rayson. 


The ball magnet shared the 2021 Magarey Medal with former Carlton and Adelaide star Bryce Gibbs after leading Woodville-West Torrens to back-to-back premierships, averaging 29 disposals and five clearances from 21 games.

But despite his blistering form in South Australia, Tsitas hadn't spoken to the Suns – or any club – before the invite arrived out the blue late last year.

Woodville-West Torrens ball-magnet James Tsitas and South Adelaide midfielder Bryce Gibbs with their 2021 Magarey Medals. Picture:

Players and coaches have been impressed by Tsitas' intensity across the five sessions he has completed so far. Given it may be his best and last chance to land in the AFL, the former Geelong VFL captain and best and fairest winner hasn't been afraid to make sure his voice is heard on the track and he takes no prisoners in training sessions. It is clear Tsitas desperately wants the spot and won't die wondering. 

Tsitas wouldn't be in this position if he didn't make the calculated decision to move to the SANFL when the VFL season was shut down in 2020. The pandemic also led to his personal training business booming online, with Tsitas rising at 4:30am each day to train his clients before training with Gold Coast.

Unlike Tsitas, Freeman's story is more well known. He managed only two games across five injury-plagued seasons in the AFL. He didn't play a game for Collingwood after being taken at pick No.10 in the 2013 NAB AFL Draft and was then delisted after three interrupted seasons at St Kilda.

But since heading to Frankston in the VFL and combining part-time football with a new career in player management at Connors Sports Management, Freeman has finally overcome the nightmare hamstring woes that ruined his AFL career to emerge as one of the best midfielders outside the AFL in the past 18 months.

Many inside the Suns have been blown away by Freeman's speed-endurance combination during his first handful of sessions at the club

Gold Coast high performance manager Alex Rigby presented a brutal relay running session just before Christmas where players were divided into groups of five and each member had to sprint 400 metres before waiting for his turn to come around again. Each group had to run a marathon of combined efforts, equalling 21 efforts of 400m in just over two hours and seven minutes. 

Freeman was the standout of the session in a signal of his intent to earn another opportunity. Some players thought it was as if the Victorian was hitting play then rewind, over and over again. 

Rayson, 19, was unlucky to be overlooked in both the national and rookie drafts late last year after impressing for Glenelg to a point where he captained South Australia in its under-19s game against Western Australia at Optus Stadium on Grand Final day.

Lewis Rayson in action for South Australia against WA at the NAB AFL U19 Championships on August 28, 2021. Picture: Getty Images

Much like Rayson, forward Ferres was also stiff to not get picked in November after the 18-year-old producing some eye-catching performances at reserves level for Sturt, in school football for St Peter's College and in three matches for South Australia at under-19 level.

It is understood that Gold Coast could opt for the experience of Freeman or Tsitas over Ferres and Rayson due to the lingering threat of the pandemic – which is set to impact a third season – and the need for another mature body in the midfield following the unexpected departure of Hugh Greenwood and the Will Brodie trade. But nothing has been decided just yet, not even how much time the four will spend at Metricon Stadium.


Carlton (1 spot): Josh Cripps (East Fremantle WAFL), Tyreece Lieu (Eastern Ranges)

Essendon (2 spots): Dylan Clarke (Essendon), Ronald Fejo jnr. (West Adelaide SANFL), Nicholas Martin (Subiaco WAFL)

Geelong (1 spot): Nil

Gold Coast (1 spot): Nathan Freeman (Frankston VFL), Morgan Ferres (Sturt SANFL), Lewis Rayson (Glenelg SANFL), James Tsitas (Woodville-West Torrens SANFL)

Hawthorn (1 spot): Vincent Adduci (Box Hill VFL)

North Melbourne (1 spot): Marty Hore (Melbourne)

St Kilda (2 spots): Jack Hayes (Woodville-West Torrens SANFL)

Sydney (1 spot): Patrick McCartin (Sydney VFL)

West Coast (1 spot): Luke Strnadica (East Fremantle WAFL), Logan Young (West Coast WAFL), Tom Joyce (Brisbane)