Darwin born and bred, Malcolm Rosas Jnr has become the first Territorian signed by the Gold Coast SUNS under the new provisions that see the Darwin region form part of the club's Academy program.
He has signed a two-year deal that puts him on the GC SUNS list at least until the end of the 2021 AFL season.
The 18-year-old, who is a talented all-round sportsman, started playing footy as an 11-year-old with the Darwin Buffaloes and has gone on to play 95 games with his beloved club, including 29 in the Men's Premier League division.
He is one of only a handful of players to have represented the NT at under 16 nationals, under 18 nationals and in senior NT Thunder all in the same year when in 2018 his draft stocks rose off the back of consistent performances across all three campaigns.
Rosas said he was thrilled that the hard work he had put in over a number of years had paid off.
“I’ve worked hard, especially over the last couple of years, to improve my game and now I’m on an AFL list, it’s a dream come true," Rosas said.
“Many people in the Northern Territory have put a lot of time and effort into getting me to this position and I can’t thank them enough.
"It’s going to be a big step up to playing AFL football for the SUNS, but I'm looking forward to putting my head down and working hard to make the NT proud."
Gold Coast SUNS General Manager Football Operations Jon Haines was looking forward to what Rosas Jnr could bring to the club.
“He’s an exciting young talent who has performed at a high level over the last couple of years, across a number of different football programs” Haines said.
“It’s a credit to Malcolm and his family what he has been able to achieve in the past couple of years and we look forward to welcoming them to the football club.”
Rosas first pulled on a Territory footy jumper in 2016 when he went away to Townsville with the AFL’s Kickstart program (for Indigenous Under 15 males) and then later that year for the School Sport Australia carnival.
It was the same year he was selected in the Rio Tinto Flying Boomerangs squad; a football development and leadership program for aspiring Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander male footballers who are under 16. As a member of the Boomerangs he travelled to China for a 10-day tour, where he got his first taste of an elite footy program.
In 2017 he was nursed through Under 16 nationals with an ankle injury, playing limited game time but with extra hours in the gym allowing him to build for a big 2018.
Last year, off the back of impressive showings as a top-age player at Under 16s and a bottom-age player at Under 18s, Rosas made his NT Thunder senior debut and went on to play three games for the NEAFL team. He then earned a call-up to the NAB AFL All Stars 'Futures' match, where he got to strut his stuff as a 17-year-old playing on the MCG on AFL Grand Final Day.
He was then selected in the AFL Allies Hub which led to selection in the AFL National Academy and subsequent Australian Under 18 representative duties against the Casey Demons in April this year.
Due to a hamstring injury sustained during the backend of the 2018/19 TIO NTFL season, Rosas did not partake in the NT Under 18s Academy series but was fit enough to play the Australian game and the final two NT Thunder NAB League games.
He played all four games at the NAB AFL Under 18 National Division 1 Championship for the Allies before returning to the Thunder NEAFL team where he closed out the year with five more appearances.
Most recently the youngster presented well at the NAB AFL Draft Combine where he was tested as a small forward and finished third overall in the 20m sprint (running 2.92 seconds) and recorded a solid time of 6:33 minutes in the 2km time trial.
AFLNT CEO Stuart Totham said it was a good day for Territory footy.
“Mally is a popular young man; he’s electric and talented on field but a gentleman off it; that combination will stand him in good stead and will do us all proud. There will be a lot of people who are ecstatic about today’s news and that’s warranted.
“We are pleased the Gold Coast SUNS partnership is already bearing fruit and we know there are more players in this year’s group and beyond who are worthy of the opportunity, so we look forward to working with them to uncover the next Mally,” he said.
AFLNT Manager of Talent and Pathways Wally Gallio wished Rosas all the best.
“Once Mally understood what choices it was going to take and learnt to train on a consistent basis, as well as working with the talent team in the NT, he produced consistent performances on field and at the Combine. He couldn’t have done it without the support of his family either, so we thank them for being a driving force behind him also.
“He joins a cohort of Territorians including Jared Brennan, Liam Patrick and Steven May, who have all had the privilege of pulling on a Gold Coast SUNS guernsey and thoroughly deserves this opportunity to be put on an AFL list.
“We are a little emotional but mostly pleased for Mally and his family and we eagerly await him lighting up the big stage with the Gold Coast SUNS. Go well!” he said.
Malcolm Rosas Jnr
Born: Darwin, NT
Local club: Darwin Buffaloes in the NTFL
Senior Men’s games: 29
Senior Men’s debut: Round 18 of the 2016/17 TIO NTFL season – Darwin Buffaloes vs Nightcliff
NT Thunder senior games: 8
NT Thunder debut: Round 19 of the 2018 NEAFL season – NT Thunder vs Redland
NT Kickstart team – 2016
NT School Sport Australia Under 15s – 2016
Rio Tinto Flying Boomerangs – 2016
NT Thunder Under 16s – 2017 and 2018
NT Thunder Under 18s – 2018 and 2019
NAB AFL All Stars 'Futures' match – 2018
AFL Allies Hub – 2019
AFL National Academy and Australian Under 18s – 2019
Allies team for NAB AFL Under 18 National Division 1 Championship – 2019