The Gold Coast Suns have the luxury of a plethora of young talent at their hands thanks to the original draft concessions when they entered the league. They had the pick of the best players in the country, and it set them up for years of future success. Among the Swallows, Days and O’Mearas there is one player who has quietly progressed and improved to a point where he could be considered as one of the top five players at the club. That man is Dion Prestia.
‘The Human Meatball’, as commentator Brian Taylor likes to call him, is in career-best form so far this season. He is averaging a tremendous 28 disposals and is currently ranked fourth in the league for contested possessions, a statistic that is imperial proof of a player’s commitment and passion. Back in the 2010 draft, he was the Suns fifth choice in the top 10 and the fifth midfielder they had picked. This could have been interpreted as a bad sign for Prestia’s future, with a number of young players following a brigade of experienced on-ballers into the club. However, over the past three seasons he has grown to be one of the best young midfielders in the competition, frequently hurting the opposition on the rebound with his agility and decision-making.
It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle at the Suns, with such a depth of talent and one of the greatest players of all time as the centrepiece. Prestia has been able to fight through the expectations of a first round draft pick and it can be argued that he is now the second best player from that original top 10 behind Essendon utility Dyson Heppell. Many people within the football look to Jaeger O’Meara as the obvious successor to Gary Ablett, however it is vital that opposition coaches take notice of Dion Prestia or they will regret it by the end of the game. In both of the Suns’ wins this season, he has probably been the best player on the ground outside of Gary Ablett.
At just 21 years of age, Prestia has boundless potential as the Suns enter a maturing period and begin to challenge for a top eight spot. Ablett won’t be around for much longer, and it’s up to Prestia along with David Swallow, Harley Bennell and Jaeger O’Meara to take control of the midfield and start cultivating a sense of chemistry. Despite the fact that they’re now in their fourth season at AFL level, many of the young players at Gold Coast, including Prestia, still look to Ablett as a get out of jail free card. This needs to be removed from their mindset, and in the wins against Richmond and Brisbane, there were signs that this is happening.
Dion Prestia is the forgotten Sun, but if he keeps up his current form it won’t be long until he’s mentioned in the same breath as the best midfielders in the game. He is one of the keys to premiership glory in the future, as the Gold Coast’s young list matures right in front of our eyes.