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Tale of the tape for your AFL team in 2018: Gold Coast

The dejected Suns after another loss. What does this club stand for? It’s hard to work out, Gold Coast causing the AFL lots of headaches. Photo: AFL MEDIA

Tale of the tape for your AFL team in 2018: Gold Coast

Ronny Lerner    

2017 record: 6 wins, 16 losses (17th)

Lachie Weller (Fremantle), Aaron Young (Port Adelaide), Harrison Wigg (Adelaide), Wil Powell (Claremont), Charlie Ballard (Sturt), Brayden Crossley (Palm Beach Currumbin), Connor Nutting (Broadbeach), Josh Jaska (Geelong Falcons), Nick Holman (Central District), Jacob Dawson (Palm Beach Currumbin), Jacob Heron (Cairns Saints)

Gary Ablett (Geelong), Adam Saad (Essendon), Brandon Matera (Fremantle), Trent McKenzie (delisted/Port Adelaide), Matt Shaw (delisted/Carlton), Jarrad Grant (delisted), Mitch Hallahan (delisted), Keegan Brooksby (delisted), Ryan Davis (delisted), Cameron Loersch (delisted), Daniel Currie (delisted)

The biggest selling point for the Suns is the potential of their youngsters. They have stockpiled a lot of seriously good talent over the last few years and are set to have four picks in the first two rounds of what is being hailed a “super draft” next year. Jack Martin, Peter Wright, Touk Miller, Lachie Weller, Ben Ainsworth, Kade Kolodjashnij, Callum Ah Chee, Jack Bowes, Brayden Fiorini, Jack Scrimshaw, Will Brodie and Wil Powell are all 22 or younger, so there is a solid platform for the future that the club should be getting excited about. Tom Lynch is an out-and-out superstar who is a proven match-winner and one of the best key forwards in the game, while Peter Wright is well on the way to joining his co-captain in the elite category. The backline has two rock-solid key defenders in Steven May and Rory Thompson and the Suns have an exciting troupe of small forwards in Martin, Ah Chee, Ainsworth and Aaron Young.

What does this club stand for? It’s hard to work out. There seems to be a cloud of apathy surrounding Metricon Stadium and Gold Coast is causing more headaches for the league than any other team. At times this year, the Suns looked disinterested, most notably in the round 23 horror show against Port Adelaide. When compared to the progress fellow expansion club GWS has made, Gold Coast’s plight becomes even more stark. The club is embarking on the most important period in its short history. The Suns have a new coach in Stuart Dew and if they fail to make their first finals appearance by 2020, their future membership of the AFL could come under serious scrutiny. Fresh from finishing 2017 in 17th position, Gold Coast has both the youngest and equal-second least experienced list in the AFL. The Suns copped some absolute poundings in 2017, most notably at the hands of Port Adelaide (115 and 72 points), GWS (102), Adelaide (67) and Sydney (67), which contributed to them having the third-worst percentage in the competition (76.0). They’ve got a Ferrari in the garage that is being badly underutilised in the form of Lynch. If the 25-year-old had A-grade supply, he would kick close to 100 goals a season. But in 2017 differentials, the Suns were ranked second-last both for inside 50s and marks inside 50 which were key factors in Lynch being restricted to just 44 majors. Gold Coast was also ranked last for tackle differentials, which would be a cause of major concern for Dew. The midfield is serviceable without being truly ominous. Aaron Hall, Miller, David Swallow, Jarryd Lyons and Weller are all quite capable but are they the kind of engine room that strikes fear into the opposition? It’s doubtful. The Suns will be hoping the likes of Bowes, Brodie and Fiorini take the next step sooner rather than later, and it wouldn’t be surprise to see Ainsworth spend some time in the middle as well.

Peter Wright had the best year of his fledgling career in 2017, booting 31 goals while averaging 13 disposals and six marks per game. He is well on the way to becoming one of the most exciting key forwards in the game and should be aiming for 40-50 goals next year.

Veteran midfielder Matt Rosa played 19 games last year yet failed to finish in the top 10 of the Suns’ best-and-fairest. That’s a pretty poor result for one of the club’s more senior players. The 31-year-old has a huge season ahead. If he fails to have a meaningful impact, he could find himself swamped by the batch of talented youngsters nipping at his heels.

B: Kade Kolodjashnij, Steven May, Sean Lemmens
HB: Jarrod Harbrow, Rory Thompson, Pearce Hanley
C: Touk Miller, Jarryd Lyons, Aaron Hall
HF: Jack Martin, Peter Wright, Callum Ah Chee
F: Ben Ainsworth, Tom Lynch, Sam Day
Foll: Jarrod Witts, David Swallow, Lachie Weller
Inter: Aaron Young, Matt Rosa, Jack Bowes, Brayden Fiorini
Emerg: Michael Barlow, Alex Sexton, Jesse Joyce

Sam Day’s return to the senior line-up will be a sight for sore eyes for Gold Coast fans after a horrible hip dislocation ruined his 2017 season. He’s no superstar by any means, but will provide much-needed structure to the forward line and support for Lynch and Wright. Tom Nicholls has a huge battle on his hands to reclaim the No.1 ruck spot after Witts’ career-best year and Barlow might find himself on the outer more often than not in 2018 as Dew aims to pump more games into his talented young midfielders. Scrimshaw and Brodie might be top-10 picks, but they’ll have to do more if they plan on cementing a spot in the best 22.

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