Sporting arguably the leagues most exciting young core, the brains trust at the Gold Coast Suns were jumping for joy on draft night as pick one fancy Elijah Hollands slid to their selection at number seven.
A smooth moving midfielder that oozes X-Factor, Hollands fits the mould of the prototypical modern footballer that can break the lines and impact the scoreboard.
Seemingly set to form a formidable midfield combination with the likes of Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson for the next decade at Metricon Stadium, the one question mark that hovers over the Murray Bushrangers product is his health as he continues his recovery from a knee reconstruction.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday morning, Hollands explained how he has settled into his first AFL pre season.
“It [my preseason] has been a bit indifferent,” Hollands said.
“Obviously we only had the two weeks in December and I was only here for one, but it’s been a little different for me as well being in rehab.
“I’ve worked really closely with the high performance guys as I try to get back on the track as early as possible, it is a bit of a slow approach at the moment but I’m really enjoying [being here].”
Twelve months on from sustaining the injury to his knee, Hollands admits he is taking a cautious approach when it comes to his return to full match play.
“There’s no real time line at the moment,” he said.
“Obviously there is a long term view ahead and I want to play a lot of footy for the Gold Coast Suns so I’ve got a good mindset in terms of knowing I can’t play all of them this year.
“So we’ll work day by day and week by week in terms of what it looks like for me but there’s certainly no rush in me getting out there and playing some footy.”
Coming into the club as an injured player, Hollands says that he has had to put a lot of effort in off the field as he looks to build connections with his new teammates.
“It just means I have to do a lot more work off the field,” he said.
“Obviously not being able to be on the other side of the boundary line and training with them is a little bit tough and challenging but it’s just all going to make it more exciting when I do go out there and get that opportunity.
“I’ve had to put a little bit more work off the track and in the rooms, in the gym and at lunch or what have you but I am certainly loving my time up here and loving the group as they have really gotten around me and wrapped their arms around me.”
Continuing to work through his rehabilitation, the 18-year-old has found inspiration from a number of key figures during his short time at the club.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with a lot of guys,” he said.
“Josh Francou is our midfield coach and I’ve spent a lot of time with Rhyce Shaw as well as he’s come into the club Shawry has been massive for me.
“He’s obviously got a great wealth of knowledge on the field in terms of being a senior coach but he’s got a really big emphasis on us off the field as well to make sure we are ticking along as good people not as just good footballers.”
When it comes to the Gold Coast Suns the question on everybody’s lips is how star midfielder Matthew Rowell is progressing as he returns from a shoulder reconstruction.
Hollands says the four game sensation is absolutely flying following his first competitive hit out in eight months.
“He was really eager to get out there, he loves his time playing footy,” he said.
“He only spent the half out there on Saturday but hopefully we’ll get a full game in on Monday as he’s looking really good.
“He spent a little bit of time with me in the rehab group through January and February but he is flying, he’s doing everything with the boys now and I’m sure come Monday he will be in really good shape to have a big impact.”