18 Teams in 18 Days: Gold Coast Suns

2017: 17th (6 wins – 16 losses)

Key Acquisition:

Lachie Weller (from Fremantle), Aaron Young (from Port Adelaide)

Key Losses:

Gary Ablett (to Geelong), Adam Saad (to Essendon), Brandon Matera (to Fremantle)

Million Dollar Question

Just what does this club stand for? It’s a big season for the Suns: New coach and plenty of new faces. Former captain and the club’s best ever player in their short history, Gary Ablett is now gone. And perhaps the most daunting obstacle of all: an unprecedented fixture quirk that won’t see the Suns play an official home game at Metricon until round 11 (due to the Gold Coast playing host to the 2018 Commonwealth Games). In fact, the Suns will play in Perth twice (in back to back weeks no less) and in Shanghai, China before playing on the Gold Coast. An extremely difficult task for new head coach Stewart Dew to navigate with what many already consider to be one of the most talent-poor lists in the competition. It’ll be a baptism of fire for the rookie head coach. What an enormous season that lies ahead.

Case For

The Suns, strangely, have one of the best spines in the league, starting with a fullback/centre halfback combo of Steven May and Rory Thompson, ball magnet Michael Rischitelli in the middle and the highly talented co-captain Tom Lynch at Centre Half forward paired with third-year tall forward Peter Wright. There’s more to build around on the Gold Coast than many other teams around the league have. Despite having such presence in the forward line in Lynch and Wright, the Suns only averaged 11 goals a game in 2017 and reached the ton on 3 occasions last season. All of these were on the Gold Coast. The Suns have drafted and recruited players over the last season or two who can have scoring impacts on games. If some of those players like Ben Ainsworth, Aaron Young, and Callum Ah Chee can help take pressure off Lynch this season, the Suns should find themselves kicking winning scores more regularly. With Ablett now gone, there’s also a Grand Canyon-sized hole left in midfield, but the Suns have a long list of young, talented mids ready to put their hand up and help fill the void. Players such as Alex Sexton, Brayden Fiorini, Will Brodie and Touk Miller will all be fighting to prove they can fill that hole. There’s enough up there on the Gold Coast, they just have to stay healthy and hope it all comes together.

Case Against

This is obviously the easier case to make. Everywhere you look on this list there are unproven players. From the injury-prone key forward Sam Day to the just as injury prone and even more frustrating David Swallow, a former number 1 overall pick. Stewart Dew will have his hands full with trying to get the best out of these sorts of players, something more experienced coaches than he have tried and failed at. The other damning stat about the Suns last season was that they conceded an average of 105 points per game. That’s not just necessarily in games they were beaten, that’s every game they played. That’s bordering on unprofessional. Gold Coast must also start to get the best out of their big name recruits from other teams, as this is a team and a city that has somehow made real quality footballers such as Pearce Hanley and Sydney premiership hero Nick Malceski seemingly vanish from the football conscience. If they can’t, coupled with the brutal fixture hand they’ve been dealt, the Suns may win the wooden spoon by default.

One to Watch

Jack Scrimshaw is one to watch for the Suns in 2018. The classy left-footer is a monster at 193cm but is a typical line breaking halfback with dashing intent and precision kicking. Scrimshaw only played the 4 games in his first season at the Suns, averaging only 10 possessions per game, but Suns fans would have seen enough to suggest he could become a special player. It will be very interesting to see where new coach Stewart Dew employs the tall utility this season.

Bold Prediction

It’s going to be a tough slog on the Gold Coast in 2018. Reality is the Suns may only have notched 1 or 2 wins by the time that first Metricon game rolls around on the 2nd of June against Geelong. Throw into the mix the circus that is likely to follow every move of out of contract co-captain and gun full forward Tom Lynch, and this season could feel like an eternity if things unravel quickly. Any finish outside the bottom third of the ladder would be a surprise.

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