AFL Draft

AFL Draft Preview: Gold Coast Suns

List Breakdown by position:

Key Def

Gen Def Mid Mid/Fwd Gen Fwd Key Fwd Ruck

Total

3

10 14 1 6 3 2

36

 

Average Age: 24.2

Players In: Aaron Young, Lachie Weller, Harrison Wigg

Players Out: Gary Ablett Jr, Adam Saad, Brendan Matera

Retired/Delisted: Keegan Brooksby, Jarrad Grant, Ryan Davis, Mitch Hallahan, Cameron Loersch,  Trent McKenzie, Dan Currie, Mackenzie Willis

Draft Picks: 19, 41, 50, 54, 74, 88

What They Got/Lost:

This trade period gave the real impression of a big sea-change in the Gold Coast, marking the end of their first era as an AFL club. When Gary Ablett made the trip north to the newly franked franchise for the 2011 season, he was expected to help deliver success to the AFL’s latest project. Despite 110 games, and a Brownlow medal, the AFL has to concede that the Ablett move has not given them what they hoped for – especially considering the relative success of the even younger GWS Giants. Ablett’s move back to Geelong all but draws a line under this ‘phase’ of the Suns, with a re-alignment needed if they are to move forward. As well as losing one of the all-time greats in Ablett, in Adam Saad they also lost one of the best rebounding defenders in the league, and in  Matera, they have lost some dynamism and experience in the forward line. It wasn’t one way traffic in the trade period, however, as they brought in ready made replacements for that pair,  in the form of Freo’s Lachie Weller and Port’s Aaron Young. The pick 2 they had to surrender for Weller has been widely considered daylight robbery on the part of Fremantle, but the importance of having a player who wants to be at the Suns cannot be underestimated. Perhaps their biggest win was the recruitment of Stuart Dew as the new head coach. The two time Premiership player has done his coaching tutelage under John Longmire at Sydney, and will bring some fresh energy and focus to the side.

What They Need:

The Suns’ biggest deficiency is, without doubt, through the centre. They have some real talent at either end of the ground, but the midfield has always been their downfall, and with Ablett leaving it will become even more evident – especially in terms of contested footy. They brought in Pearce Hanley, Jarryd Lyons and Michael Barlow last year, but with Barlow and Hanley predominantly outside players, not to mention Barlow being set to miss a large portion of 2018 through injury, a lot will be left at Lyons’ door. Big-bodied contested beast Will Brodie could be one to step up in his second year, but the Suns can’t pin all their hopes on him so soon. A strong contested player has to be at the top of their list.

What the Suns need more than anything, however, is some continuity, and to show some signs that they can improve. The battles the Northern clubs have holding onto players is well regarded, and while this year may seem like a season of change, the foundations were put in place in 2016 not only at the trade table but with their monster haul at the Draft. While Academy products Jack Bowes and Brad Scheer would be unlikely to ‘want away’, keeping and developing the likes of, Brodie, Ben Ainsworth and Jack Scrimshaw is imperative to the Suns’ future.

On the Radar:

Having given up pick 2, the Suns head to the draft with limited currency, but should be able to pick up some quality with the picks they have. At the pick 19 mark, there probably won’t be the big, contested player that they would be on the lookout for, so they may just go with the best available. There are a few defender/flankers in and around this mark that would no doubt be considered. The penetrating kick of Matt Ling, the accurate distribution of Lochie O’Brien, or the speed and work rate of Ed Richards would appeal, and I would think Richards would be the go to. Despite operating predominantly as a defender, he has shown flashes of genuine ability at the contest, and could really develop into talented midfielder in time.

They may instead opt to reach for a player like Geelong’s James Worpel, who could even potentially be there at their second pick if some predictions are to prove correct. He would instantly give them that aggressive hard edge in the midfield, and if he is keen to play in the Sunshine State then they wouldn’t hesitate in taking him early. Another who could appeal is WA prospect Brayden Ainsworth. He starred for the Sandgropers in the under-18 Championships, and although is predicted to go a little later, could also have an immediate impact through the middle.

On the Academy front, the Suns have the mountainous Brayden Crossley to welcome into their ranks. The big ruckman has been excelling in their NEAFL side for the past two seasons, and that senior experience means he could be an immediate option in the ruck department. The Suns will be hoping a bid doesn’t come too soon, but with their stack of third round selections, they are well covered.

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