It’s been a tough ride for Guy McKenna and Gold Coast in 2012. Questions have swirled about McKenna’s coaching ability and questions about a contract renewal. There have been both stars and underperformers in 2012: Gary Ablett is surely a Brownlow contender despite playing in a side which finished in the bottom two. Harley Bennell has begun to live up to the hype, becoming a seriously damaging player both in the midfield and up forward. Nevertheless, season 2012 can still be viewed as a step forward for Gold Coast as they move from potential to real talent.
For a long time, however, there were questions as to whether the Suns would fall behind the other new franchise, the GWS Giants, in the ladder and face a second wooden spoon finish. The Suns did not manage to grab a win until their round 16 victory over Richmond. However, this shouldn’t be seen as a step backwards for the Suns. Gold Coast had very close losses against North Melbourne, Fremantle and Essendon where they were within a shout right until the end. Their competitiveness has gone up dramatically despite having some very bad losses, and the margins in the second have of the season have been consistent with a poor AFL side rather than a bunch of kids.
This has been due to improvement among the young players. In particular, Harley Bennell and Josh Caddy stand out as the two biggest improvers of the 2012 season. Bennell has rapidly become a player to watch, as his silky disposal and goalkicking ability makes him one of those players that can really break a game open. Caddy, too, despite speculation regarding his wish to return home, has blossomed into a dangerous midfielder and his trade value has soared.
In addition, there is also Gary Ablett. Ablett is surely right in contention for the Brownlow despite being in a losing side. He has managed an incredible average of 34.2 disposals per game, with 6 games topping 40 disposals and his round 10 match against Collingwood seeing him notch up an incredible 53 touches as he both won his own ball and made both his own outside running. A true superstar.
However, some players have struggled despite this. The Suns’ season was struck with a horror injury run, losing both some of the senior brigade as well as the young guns. Those that have stepped up to the plate have not necessarily succeeded either, particularly Jarred Brennan, who despite all his natural talent seems to struggle for work ethic. Josh Fraser was frozen out of the team despite the injuries and was effectively forced into a retirement position by Guy McKenna deciding to ‘play the kids’ ahead of him.
Ultimately, their season came to fruition with 3 wins in the last third of the season. Although the victory over the Giants was to be expected, defeating Richmond once again in Cairns as well as knocking off Carlton at Metricon Stadium proved to ultimately keep the Suns on par with their 2011 season, and even improve due to their close losses.
Ladder Position: 17th
Free Agents Available: None
Draft Picks: 2, 25, 44, 63, 81 – Gold Coast also have Jaeger O’Meara eligible for the 2013 season thanks to the mini-draft picks.
Needs to pick up: The ultimate would be a true inside midfielder. Someone to simply extract all day for the likes of Ablett and Bennell. While O’Meara could potentially be this, the best option for the Suns would surely be Jack Viney. Expect a father-son bid on him from Gold Coast, or an attempt to pick up Lachlan Whitfield. If an experienced option was wanted, Brent Moloney would be available relatively cheaply due to his poor 2012. Outside of this, the Suns seem to be well balanced but simply need to get games into bodies.
2013 Expectations: A couple more wins, a couple more surprises. The Suns are steadily improving and will start to climb sooner rather than later. 6 wins and 14th on the ladder.