2021 was another wasted year for the Suns, who failed to build on a 2020 campaign that showed a lot of potential. Can their young core catapult the Gold Coast up the ladder, or will it be another long year for the Suns?
Jack Tobin will be previewing EVERY team in the lead up to the 2022 season, while PuntingInDanger and his crew will be back this year to give their betting tips on every game. Be sure to head to the AFL Tips page for regular updates!
Gold Coast Suns Season Preview
In: Mabior Chol (Richmond), Mac Andrew (Pick 5), Charlie Constable (Pick 63), Levi Casboult (Delisted Free Agent), James Tsitas (SSP selection)
Out: Will Brodie (Fremantle)
Securing the services of Mabior Chol was a huge success for the Suns, adding much needed depth to their ruck and key forward stocks. Mac Andrew looks to be a generational ruck talent, while Charlie Constable will add some more depth to the Suns midfield.
The Suns were dealt a massive blow last week with Ben King rupturing his ACL during training. King kicked 47 goals last season in a Gold Coast side that won only seven games, to finish in the top ten goalkickers in the AFL in just his second season. The Suns will now be relying on former Carlton big man Levi Casboult to fill the hole of Kings absence, however it creates a key forward pairing with Sam Day that lacks athleticism.
Gold Coast will be looking for their 2018 and 2019 draft classes to take their game to the next level. Jack Lukosius has been solid but not spectacular, Izak Rankine has shown glimpses but been inconsistent. Matt Rowell has had an injury interrupted two seasons and needs to show he can get through a full season without any injuries. The best performer of the young group has been Noah Anderson, who averaged 16 disposals in his first season and 22 disposals in 2021. If these youngsters can begin to fill their potential, the Suns are going to be a tough team to play against.
Suns co-captain Jarrod Witts missed nearly all of 2021 after suffering an ACL injury in round three. Witts’ absence was a major problem for the Suns, who ranked 18th for hitouts and subsequently 15th for clearances. In 2020 Witts ranked 4th in the AFL for hitouts averaging 28 per game, and Gold Coast’s young midfield needs to be getting first use from their skipper if they’re to be competitive this season.
Gold Coast picked up wins against Richmond, GWS and Carlton across the final seven weeks of 2021, which showed Stuart Dew’s side has the capability to be a good side if they can put it all together. The problem for the Suns across their existence has been their inability to put it together on a consistent basis, they’ve always had an abundance of talent, but they haven’t been able to produce a brand of football that will hold them in good stead.
Stuart Dew comes into this season on the hot seat, and under more pressure for his job than any coach in the league. Dew has had finishes of 17th, 18th, 14th and 16th in his four seasons at the helm and with Alistair Clarkson on the open market, if the Suns don’t make strides this season - Dew will be as good as gone.
Breakout Player: Charlie Constable
Charlie Constable arrives at the Suns after being delisted at Geelong, with an excellent opportunity to get consistent games. Constable couldn’t get opportunities in Geelong’s stacked side, despite averaging 31 disposals per game in the VFL last year. Coming into his fourth season, Constable has a mature body and an innate ball winning ability that the Gold Coast desperately needs. At 191cm, the former Cat gives a point of difference in the Suns midfield that they’ve been in need of for a long time. Constable has had a strong preseason, and will be ready to produce a massive 2022 campaign.
What Do The Suns Need To Do In 2022?
There’s a million issues at the Gold Coast, but their number one priority for 2022 needs to be keeping their young guns. The Suns have had their growth stunted by players requesting a trade within their first four years at the Suns, and they’ve got some big names coming out of contract this season. Ben King, Jack Lukosius and Izak Rankine are in the final year of their contract and have been linked to moves back to Victoria and South Australia respectively. King will be the biggest concern given the reports about his desire to get back to Victoria and now being out for the season through injury, it makes it a lot more challenging to convince King to stay. If the Suns can’t hold onto these players, they’re going to be in the same mess they found themselves in back in 2018. The flow on effect when Rowell and Anderson come out of contract in 2023 could be catastrophic.
Gold Coast were solid in the final two months of the season, but now with Ben King’s injury it’s difficult to see the Suns improving much on last season’s 16th placed finish. Another season of continuity under Stuart Dew will help, as well another year under the belt for their youngsters, there will be improvement from within. It’s going to be tough for the Suns to kick winning scores with a forwardline spearheaded by Sam Day and Levi Casboult, it’s far too one-dimensional. Gold Coast will be looking for their young core to take a step forward this season, but they’re still lacking the established star power to make a genuine tilt at the top eight this season.