Gold Coast wizard Izak Rankine has had his head turned by a $4 million, five-year offer from Adelaide as the Crows close-in on a trade heist.
Rankine, 22, was moving towards a new long-term deal at the Suns as recently as last month and bought a house on the Gold Coast earlier this year.
The Suns had been confident of keeping the 22-year-old, who has started to blossom in 2022, believing he would follow Ben King, Jack Lukosius and others in re-committing to Stuart Dew’s project.
Lukosius (pick 2), Rankine (pick 3) and King (pick 6) were all taken by Gold Coast at the pointy end of the 2018 draft.
But the Suns’ confidence of keeping Rankine is quickly evaporating given they can’t compete with the financial package presented by the Crows.
Gold Coast’s offer is said to be solid, but they are under salary cap pressure and face delicate dealings with their batch of young guns in the coming years as they look to keep their list together.
Officially, Rankine is undecided on his future, but sources at both clubs believe he is now more likely to return home than stay in Queensland where he has previously been settled.
The only decision Rankine has made is to reject an approach from Essendon, whose offer was believed to be very similar to that put forward by Adelaide.
The Bombers presented Rankine with a package that involved a prominent role in the Dreamtime at the ‘G blockbuster, The Long Walk, and other indigenous aspects of life at the club.
But the Crows offer Rankine with the chance to return home and reunite with family, four years after he was drafted out of West Adelaide.
Rankine is out of contract, but not a free agent, and the Suns would demand Adelaide’s first-round pick be involved in any deal.
The forward is said to want to avoid any scenario whereby the Crows could use the threat of the pre-season draft in any negotiation, which is what Carlton did with Jack Martin in 2019.
Rankine was plagued by hamstring and hip injuries that stopped him from making his debut in his first season at the Suns, but he has shone this year, kicking 27.19 from 16 games.