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Long hoping for AFL recall in time for Territory fixtures

Jackson Clark -

Out of favour Gold Coast forward Ben Long is hoping for a senior recall in time for his team's Northern Territory fixtures this month.

Long has played just the one game at AFL level for the Suns in 2024, however the 26-year-old has put his best foot forward with a string of impressive performances in the VFL.

The Anmatjerre man has kicked 11 goals in three games for the Suns' VFL team – including a five-goal haul against Box Hill Hawks in Round 3 – to place him equal second in the competition's leading goal-kickers.

Long told the NT News he feels he is producing 'consistent' form at the lower level.

"I've finally played some consistent VFL games the past few weeks and I've been playing well," Long told the NT News.

"I've got on the end of a few goals, but there's been some good team performances and we're really playing well right now.

"I've just got to keep putting my foot forward and just waiting to take advantage of when the opportunity comes with both hands, but I'm just happy to be playing consistent footy."

Ben Long has kicked 11 goals in three games for Gold Coast's VFL team. (Image: Getty Images)

Long joined the Suns during the 2022 trade period, along with a future fourth-round pick, while St Kilda received draft pick 32 in return.

He played 15 games for the Suns last year but has struggled to hold down a spot under new coach Damien Hardwick.

The tough and tenacious utility is just biding his time after a positional switch from defence to the forward-line.

"I'm enjoying it, just getting back to that (forward) role, it's just one of those things where I know I'm playing well and now waiting for my opportunity in the AFL," he said.

Gold Coast are set to play two home games in Darwin in the coming weeks, with fixtures against North Melbourne on May 11 and a Thursday night clash with Geelong to kick off Sir Doug Nicholls Round on May 16.

Ahead of the fixtures the Suns unveiled a special Larrakia/Darwin Indigenous jumper on Wednesday to honour the club's connection to the Top End.

Long was a part of the club's two wins at TIO Stadium last year and said it was a terrific honour playing in front of friends and family.

"I was lucky enough to be a part of those games, I was really looking for to them playing in front of my friends and family," he said.

"The link between the club and Darwin is strong, hopefully that continues going into the future, the NT loves footy and to have games there is important in bringing the community together.

"It's important for the NT and the community up there for Darwin to host AFL games, and for us boys it's the best time in the calendar because you play in front of friends and family.

"It was a special time and something I will cherish, the games were great, but also to be back home was an awesome feeling and a good experience for the club to get out into different communities."


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