Adelaide boom recruit Izak Rankine has backed himself to thrive under the spotlight and deliver on the big expectations that accompany his blockbuster trade.
"The expectation coming down here, a lot of media, a lot of fans have a lot of expectations, so I think that's just going to drive me to play even better and be better as a person and as a footballer," he said.
After four years with the Suns, Izak Rankine informs Gold Coast of his desire to continue his career in South Australia with the Crows.
The 22-year-old has had a breakout 2022 season, kicking 29 goals and assisting 18 others from 18 matches.
Adelaide's offer to Rankine, which exceeded the Suns' by a significant margin, was too good for the young forward to pass up. With a host of promising young players on their list, the Suns were unable to match the Crows' lucrative offer due to the salary cap.
"To lose a player that talented after four years is incredibly disappointing for the club. To finally see the benefit of all that hard work and get him to request a trade back to Adelaide is disappointing," Gold Coast football manager Wayne Campbell said.
Following reports of a highly lucrative offer to Izak Rankine from the Crows, Gold Coast is leaving no stone unturned in its effort to the young forward, with the club's leadership group pitching its case him.
"He's a special person, special player. We've gone to him and had a few chats about how much he means to us and means to the club," Gold Coast co-captain Touk Miller said.
"As a leadership group, that's part of what you have to do. This club wants success, and he can be a key part of that."
Izak Rankine says a simple change in mindset has helped him rediscover the form that had pundits so excited early in his career.
"I'm just getting back to my roots, not worrying about anything else. I'm not worrying about my game, anyone else's game, what other people are saying, just going out there and having fun," Rankine said.
Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew plans to push Izak Rankine into the Suns' midfield in 2021.
"Although at the time a lot of people thought we were drafting an exciting forward pocket, we thought we were drafting a very, very good footballer that could play in the midfield and go forward," Dew said.
"We also think he can be a lot more consistent than perhaps what people think, and less of the highlight reel and more consistently influencing passages of play. He'll definitely push up into the midfield at different times because he seems to create things when he's around the ball."
Izak Rankine is the 2020 AFL Rising Star nominee for round 6 after kicking 3 goals from 12 disposals in his debut game for the Suns against Melbourne.
"As soon as I got out there and having those warm-up kicks and seeing the stadium, I knew this was the place I was meant to be. As soon as I saw that and stepped across that white line all those nerves turned into excitement," Rankine said.
"I obviously didn't expect to kick a few goals like that and play that well but just leading into the game my main focus was to play my role for the team."
Rankine had to bide his time over a span of 20 months as he battled with injuries and setbacks before his eventual debut.
"Doubts started to creep in when I hurt myself at the start of this year. The support around me within my family and the club and all the boys and Tristan Coulter, the psychologist at the club, I had a great support base and that was the main thing," he said.
"Whenever I did get down I'd make sure I'd reach out and talk to someone and make sure I wasn't there by myself letting those four walls close in on me."
Izak Rankine will play just his second NEAFL game of the season this week after overcoming a hip injury when the Suns take on the Swans at Sydney's Tramway Oval.
"He has demonstrated an impressive level of diligence throughout his first year at the club and while it has been frustrating at times, we have no doubt the experience is going to hold him in great stead going into 2020 and beyond," Gold Coast football manager Jon Haines said about Rankine.
Izak Rankine believes being of indigenous origin led to suggestions he would be a 'flight risk' at last year's draft.
"Coming from an indigenous background there can be a label on you that you want to stay home with your mob and with your family. But for me personally, my family told me to go and do whatever," Rankine said.
"If I ended up at Gold Coast, or Melbourne or in Western Australia, that was all right, I just want to pursue my dream and put the name out there."
Rankine has played minimal football thus far in 2019 due to hamstring issues but says he has settled into the Suns seamlessly.
"I haven't been homesick so far and I don't think I will be. I love it up here so much. I miss my family, but I'd rather they move up here than me go back if anything," he said.
"It's a bit better up here, it's more laid back, you don't get hassled and it's a good place for football to thrive and become really big on the coast. I'm happy to help do that and get around to communities."
Izak Rankine will miss up to eight weeks with a hamstring injury sustained during the Suns' JLT Community Series loss to Sydney in Lismore.
"Given the specifics of Izak's injury, the explosive nature with which he plays the game and where he is at in his career, we’ll take a responsible approach with Izak and make sure his rehabilitation is thorough and sets him up well moving forwards," Gold Coast's head of physiotherapy Lindsay Bull said.