Why Rankin's business request for a home was met with concern

Why Rankin’s business request for a home was met with concern

For all the hype surrounding Izak Rankin as the AFL’s top prospect during his teenage years, he has since been somewhat off-Broadway as a Gold Coast footballer.

That came to an abrupt halt earlier this month when it emerged the 22-year-old wanted to return home to South Australia to play for the Crows – a team he supported and adored.

Rankine made the announcement on Tuesday when he requested a trade to Adelaide.

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Reactions to the news have been mixed, ranging from apparent disappointment and even anger at the Suns in regards to eccentric chairman Tony Cochran.

Both Cochrane and co-captain Touk Miller mentioned how much work Gold Coast put in to firstly help Rankin overcome his early injury woes, but also develop him as a player and a person.

There is a sense of anxiety that he will not see the fruits of that labor until a first-class 2022 season that included 29 goals and a personal best 10th in the competition for club champions Suns.

But that disappointment is matched by excitement in other areas, namely from Rankine’s family, the Crows and the people of West Adelaide who guided him in his youth.

Izak Rankine applied for a trading house. Image: Russell FreemanSource: Getty Images

There is also some concern.

Rankine had what can only be described as a difficult upbringing, including but not limited to the separation of his parents, Ronald and Kerry.

His relationship with his father is complicated and before his conscription there were periods alternating between living at home or with his older brother Matt, one of six siblings.

Rankine took on special responsibilities and both West Adelaide High School and Henley High School, particularly Ben Kane who ran the school’s football academy, were instrumental in providing structure to his life.

“I was happy he was drafted from South Australia,” Rankine West Adelaide League coach Gavin Colville told News Corp.

“I felt he would definitely benefit from being out of the Adelaide Aquarium, so I think that was a good thing.”

“All my contact with Izak tells me he’s had really solid support on the Gold Coast and it’s been a really good experience for him … I just hope it works out for him because he’s a really good lad.”

AFL recruiters, who spoke to News Corp on condition of anonymity, echoed Colville’s sentiments that an interstate move was for the best.

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Rankine conducted several pre-draft interviews with his father and others on his own. In the solo ones he also talked about how it would be good for him to get out of Adelaide.

One talent scout walked away from an interview with Rankin believing his father would find it difficult for his son to leave.

Former Suns football boss Jon Haines was heavily involved in Rankine’s first three seasons in the AFL system before leaving the club at the end of last year.

They did their due diligence before the draft and invested further after he became a Gold Coast player.

Rival recruiters knew Rankin was a home run risk, but believed the Suns’ 2018 draft picks — Nos. 2, 3 and 7 — meant he was definitely worth the gamble on talent alone.

“Once we picked it, we wanted to understand it as much as possible,” Haines said.

“Like anything, understanding a person’s journey and situation makes it easier, either individually or as a club, to really help – and that’s what we’ve focused on.

“A lot of time and energy went into it, but it was well received and educational on both sides.

“We learned as much about ourselves and what we needed to do to support our players as we learned about Izak.”

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The Gold Coast’s overarching approach to Rankin was to surround him with positivity and Haines saw “huge” personal growth in him.

Rankine has often spoken to the Suns about wanting to use his profile as an AFL footballer to make a difference in the Aboriginal community.

TALENT

Former Crow Jason Porplyzia, who used to be West Adelaide’s talent manager, still fondly remembers an under-16 game where Rankine kicked all six of the team’s goals and had nearly as many backs.

Colvill’s standout memory is of one passage from Rankin’s draft year when he made a fool of 159-game AFL defender Jasper Pittard, who was playing in the Port Adelaide reserves that day.

Rankine pounced on Sherrin and left Pittard in his dust before kicking home despite the defender being in a decent position to knock him offside.

“To see someone of Pittard’s quality, how Izak took him to school was unbelievable – he was too fast for him,” Colville said.

“Izak has the ability to run with the ball pretty much as fast as he does without it. It looked ridiculously easy… no one else would have scored from it.”

Izak Rankine is a fan favorite. Image: Matt RobertsSource: Getty Images

Then of course there was Rankin’s masterful performance against Victoria Metro for South Australia’s under-18 team.

The lanky lad kicked three of his five goals before midway through the first quarter, including a mazy finish in the air to help the Tony Bamford-coached South Australians blow the Victorians away.

“He’s definitely outside the box. You don’t get a lot of exceptionally talented players in a lot of different sports — he was also an outstanding basketball player,” Bamford said.

“We didn’t have to do anything in terms of acquiring skills because he was already more skilled than half the guys playing in the AFL.

“It was just about making sure he played a part in the team unit, which he did quite well for us.

Haines, Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew and co. they also shook their heads at Rankin’s natural gifts, from training to matches.

PERSON

Teammates young and old have always gravitated towards Rankin, whom Porplyzia describes as “happy and a little sassy.”

“I think he’s kind of stepped into the limelight. He likes the expectation,” said Porplyzia, who played 130 games for the Crows from 2006-14.

“Definitely when he was a kid. He liked to play in big games and in big moments – that’s the kind of thing he thrives on.

“There’s a bit of a glare about him.

Izak Rankine laughs at Gold Coast training. Image: Chris HydeSource: Supplied

There are few concerns about how Rankine will handle the increased expectations and attention as an Adelaide footballer, as off-field issues never seemed to bother him when he was playing.

His ability to “switch off” from the football also impressed Colvill, a quality he believed would serve him well throughout his AFL career.

Haines was also impressed with Rankin’s adaptability and infectious personality.

“He had a shyness (when he first came in) but also an energy and charisma that in some ways belied that shyness,” Haines said.

“It didn’t take long for him to adapt to the environment and build relationships with people and especially the staff. He adapted very quickly to the environment.”

FUTURE

Rankine has yet to publicly comment on his trade request, but much of the attention elsewhere has so far focused on his salary.

Cochrane even used the phrase “money talks” in the Rankine farewell clip.

Some media outlets believe he will get somewhere around $800,000 per season, while others have it closer to $700,000.

The long-term Gold Coast bid was believed to be worth around $650,000 a year. Whatever the outcome, Rankine will be handsomely rewarded.

Izak Rankine announced that he wanted a department store. Image: Michael KleinSource: News Corp Australia

There have been glimpses of the player he could become this year, but both Bamford and Porplyzia hope the Crows will use him more in midfield.

He believes he can turn into a Shai Bolton or Connor Rozee-type player who starts up front but impacts the game in bursts in midfield.

“I even said that to the Gold Coast two years ago,” Bamford said.

“I said, ‘If you want more from Isaac; you have to give him a sniff of the ball.”

“Don’t just leave him as a small forward because it’s like leaving a Porsche on the high street where you can only go 60km an hour. Get him on the freeway and let him go.”

The biggest unknown is how this situation plays out off the field.

We hope that Adelaide is fully prepared for the complications that could and probably will arise. But Rankine being reunited with his family and friends is also seen as a big positive.

However it turns out, the general consensus is that the 22-year-old version of Rankin will be much better equipped to deal with any challenges.

“There’s no doubt about it,” Haines said.

“He’s been in the system for four years, he’s been in a really good program and he understands the AFL industry.

“He’s as ready as he can be to go back to that crazy city and the anticipation that comes with the type of buzz that’s going to be around the store.”

“He’ll be ready for it and hopefully he’ll do really well.”

Izak Rankine celebrates kicking a goal. Image: Albert Perez/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Fox Footy’s David King spoke this week of his concerns over Rankine’s move home, believing the trade request was “ill-advised”.

“It’s still in my head,” King said on SEN.

“I think this is one of the most ill-advised players I’ve seen in a while at the moment.

“A young man aged 22, just starting out, just hitting the straps, played 50 AFL games – he’s not an $800,000 player.

“I understand you get what you pay for and the Adelaide Crows have done a great job in securing their man and you have to pay the overpayments, I understand all that, but the pressure that will be on him now worries me.

“Because he’s a small forward, he manages to win his own ball in the 50. He’s not the center of the marquee so he won’t be able to get the numbers to satisfy the fans.

“I think he will be under pressure at the Adelaide Crows.

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