The long wait for football in 2018 is nearly over, with a just few weeks between us and the new AFL Season. What better time to cast our eye over the competing clubs, do our best Nostradamus impersonation and have a crack at guessing what the new season holds in store.
Next up in our series of previews are the Gold Coast Suns.
Why can they improve?
The easy answer ofcourse, is that its hard to see them going any worse than they did in 2017. It is far from a collective feeling of obtimism, but there is some interest in seeing how Stuart Dew can take the Suns forward.
The addition of Lachie Wellar will help to cover for the loss of Best & Fairest winner Gary Ablett. It will also be hoped that his enticement north will help co-captain, Tom Lynch, to remain a Sun after his contract expires at season end.
They did show some promising signs amidst the gloom last year, most notably their 86-point drubbing of Hawthorn. It’s performances like these, that lend some hope to Suns fans as they wait for the new season to commence.
What could leave them standing still?
Despite only playing 14 games in 2017, Gary Ablett was still able to claim the Best & Fairest award illustrating the gulf in talent, or consistency, he has left behind. While crisis breeds opportunity, how long will it take for the replacements to cover the loss of the irreplacable.
Why could they go backwards?
Having been mired in the lower reaches of the AFL ladder in recent times, it is hard to mount a case for a ‘sometimes teams need to go backwards before they go forwards’ argument. Yet, given that they perhaps caught a few teams off guard in 2017 with their endeavour and attacking game style, it could be argued that a combination of opponents being more prepared or a slight decrease in their own efforts could see the Lions go backwards despite their already lowly standing.
Gold Coast’s first marquee signing since the raids they made prior to joining the competition, Lachie Weller will don the red and gold with a lot of expectation on his broad shoulders. Already a genuine star of the competition, despite his career being in it’s very early days, He will be a most welcome addition to the club in the wake of Gary Ablett’s departure. With Fremantle extracting a heavy price from Gold Coast for the 2016 Rising Star winner, an immediate impact will be expected from fans of the glitter strip club.
Having already moved onto their third coach after just seven years in the AFL, it would be hard to see the Suns agitating for another change so soon after their hatchet job on Rodney Eade. Their new man, Stuart Dew, comes to the role having served a solid apprenticeship and having been exposed to a number of the most successful AFL clubs of recent times. Success has eluded his predecessors but Dew appears well placed to turn around the culture clouds that have prevented the Suns shining brightly.
On face value it would seem an easy task to make a prediction on where the Suns will finish in 2018 but, despite the doom and gloom surrounding the club, there were promising signs on show last season. While it is hard to erase memories of their Round 115 point shellacking at the hands of Port Adelaide, they also managed to defeat Geelong and West Coast and record two victories over Hawthorn including an 86 point domination at Metricon.
Which is the real Gold Coast? The team that lost to Port Adelaide by 20 goals or the one that beat Hawthorn by 15? It is this question that says, that while most would expect a bottom four finish, the Suns could surprise with a finals finish in 2018.
The year ahead in a sentence
Burn Baby, Burn.
Click the link below to tune in to The Pinch Hitters with Boz and Pav podcast as the boys discuss what they expect from Gold Coast in 2018, the Ashes, the BBL and a whole lot more.
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