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Suns shine on Bull Sharks recruit

Nick Francis

The move to Bond University is paying off for the Bull Sharks’ newest recruit Nicholas Francis who was called into the Gold Coast Suns squad for their pre-season clash with the Brisbane Lions on Thursday.

The 2024 Riewoldt Family AFL Excellence Scholarship recipient has made an immediate impact on the Bull Sharks and did not disappoint in his first exposure to AFL listed opposition for the Suns.  

The match at Brighton Homes Arena, played across six 20-minute periods, featured close to full strength sides in the opening half before both clubs introduced VFL listed and academy players.

Suns VFL coach Tate Kaesler said Francis looked right at home when he entered the action for the 5th and 6th periods.

“Nick covered the ground really well stepping up to VFL level,” he said.

“His pressure on the opposition was of a really good quality and he made great decisions with the ball in hand.’’

Law student Francis barely played football in 2021 and 2022 and although he returned to school football in Year 12, he was overlooked in the 2023 AFL draft.

However, he was called into the Suns program on his arrival to Queensland and has impressed in pre-season intra-club matches leading up to his debut on Thursday.

The Lions side for the final two periods still boasted 10 AFL listed players which Francis said gave him an understanding of the standard he hoped to reach with his football.

“Getting an opportunity to play in an AFL environment was an unreal experience,” he said.

“To get a taste of what it is like at the top level certainly provides a lot of motivation and an excellent opportunity for growth and learning.

“I’m very grateful to the Suns for the chance to play.’’

Bond Director of AFL Andy Lovell said Francis has been a terrific addition to the Bull Sharks squad.

“He’s made a really big impact on the group,” he said.

“He has been a standout in our match simulation at training and we’re excited to see him in action when the season starts.

“He’s also been really impressive with how he has bought in to our culture. On nights when he can’t train because of Suns commitments he’s always down at the club, helping out with drills and getting involved.

“I reckon he rolled footies for ground ball drills for hours the other night, and his teammates can really see his commitment to the club.’’

Joining Francis on the field for the Suns was fellow Bondie Ben O’Brien.

The second year Bachelor of Policy, Philosophy and Economics-Bachelor of Laws student, who hails from St Brendan’s College at Yeppoon, is a member of the Suns Academy. 

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