Land of the rising Sun

Sam Flanders has begun his AFL journey in one of the more tricky situations, dealing with a pandemic and a new environment all in one go, but he's embraced the challenge.

Sam Flanders has begun his AFL journey in one of the more tricky situations, dealing with a pandemic and a new environment all in one go, but he's embraced the challenge.

For a country kid like Sam Flanders, the bright lights and buzzing media were something he had never seen, but during the last year’s AFL Draft, he found himself at the centre of it all.
On November 29, Flanders joined the best of the best at the National Draft after a stellar year for Gippsland Power. Alongside his great mate Caleb Serong, Flanders sat anxiously in the room awaiting his future.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, his manager had notified him that two teams were interested, with Fremantle and Sydney looking to take the gun half-forward.
Sydney had pick five in the draft and when that passed, Flanders thought he would be off to Fremantle with pick nine, but it wasn’t to be.
Instead, he watched as Fremantle used the first of their back to back picks on Hayden Young, followed by his teammate Caleb Serong. He started to wonder what was going on.
As the Blues flashed up on the draft board with pick 11, Flanders again wondered whether he would be taken. They needed a half forward and had missed out on making a deal for Sydney’s Tom Papley.
“I honestly thought I was a big chance to go to the Blues,” Flanders said. “The Gold Coast then traded down to Pick 11 and I heard my name called,” he added.
Camera flashes and music blared as Sam made his way up met by new Suns teammates Izak Rankine and Ben King, he was presented with his new guernsey.
“It was a massive shock. My first reaction, I didn’t even know what really happened. It was a mixture of excitement and shock. I had met with the Suns twice, but I honestly thought they would be the last team that would take me,” Flanders said.
While the Suns may not have been on Flanders radar, he felt comfortable after connecting with Cal Burns one of the recruiters. Burns played against Flanders father and spent time in Leongatha, the same region he grew up in.
Flanders was one of three picks the Suns made that night, with highly touted Oakleigh Chargers duo Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson picked one and two. This meant that former rivals would now become teammates.
“It was probably harder going up with Noah and Matty actually. We had a huge rivalry in the NAB League competition between Oakleigh and Power. Really, at the start it was a bit hard, but now we’ve accepted and learned that we are on the same team and have become stronger in that,” Flanders said.
Before he knew it, he was on a plane to the Gold Coast. Arriving at his new club just three days after being drafted.
His first impression was how hot it was.


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