Izak Rankine will be hoping for better luck in 2020. Picture: Getty Images
Izak Rankine will be hoping for better luck in 2020. Picture: Getty Images

How experienced recruit can redefine Gold Coast

WILL the Suns finally rise on the Gold Coast?

The 2019 season started brightly for the Suns before they lost their last 18 games to collect the wooden spoon.

But the wins came off the field with the AFL handing Gold Coast extra draft picks that helped the club secure Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson, while securing their top-10 picks from 2018 - Jack Lukosius, Izak Rankine and Ben King - to longer deals.

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Here's eight reasons why the Suns can be hopeful in 2020.

 

1. ONLY ONE WAY

When you finish on the bottom of the ladder one season, the only way is up the next. The Suns won just three games in 2019, all in the opening four rounds in results that came as a surprise to many. However, the wind quickly went out of sails of the young side as it lost the last 18 matches by an average of 49 points. It was not pretty, but surely the Suns will be better for the experience.

 

2. YOUNG TALENT

The Suns will field the youngest and least-experienced list in 2020. Their average age will be 23.24 and average games played 50. That means there is no shortage of young talent with potential. The Suns now have 11 top-10 draft selections and six who were selected from picks 11 to 20. That is some serious talent. It's just a matter of getting more experience and getting them to jell and perform. If coach Stuart Dew can do that, the future looks bright.

The Suns secured Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson with the top two picks in the national draft. Picture: AAP
The Suns secured Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson with the top two picks in the national draft. Picture: AAP

 

3. PRIORITIES RIGHT

A generous assistance package the AFL handed the struggling club helped it land an impressive trio of selections at the 2019 draft. Using a priority draft pick that gave it the first two selections in the national draft, Gold Coast snagged Victorian best mates Matthew Rowell and Noah Anderson, and then secured Gippsland Power product Sam Flanders with pick 11. Some recruiters saw the trio as the best three on-ballers in the draft and all could have immediate impact. Inside bull Rowell ranked better in the NAB League in 2019 than Carlton's Sam Walsh did in 2018, while Anderson looks like not only a quality outside midfielder but also a damaging forward. Flanders is comparable to Melbourne's Christian Petracca.

 

4. HIGH RANKINE

There was plenty of buzz around Izak Rankine this time last year after the South Australian was selected at pick three in the 2018 national draft. But injuries meant the exciting talent was unsighted at AFL level last season. Rankine suffered a hamstring injury on the eve of the season and subsequent setbacks sidelined him for 13 rounds. After one NEAFL game, the 19-year-old then suffered a hip injury and returned only for the last two games of the year in the seconds. However, the Suns think Rankine can make a splash in 2020. This is a player who had 17 touches and kicked five goals to log 169 SuperCoach points against Vic Metro in the under-18 national championships of 2018.

Ben King’s contract extension gave the Suns a boost. Picture: AAP
Ben King’s contract extension gave the Suns a boost. Picture: AAP

 

5. FORWARD KING

One of the Suns' top priorities last season was getting Ben King to sign a contract extension, something he did in October. Selected at pick six in the 2018 national draft, King earned a Rising Star nomination in a debut season in which he played 14 games and kicked 17 goals. At 202cm, he is one of the most exciting key-position prospects in the game, as proved by his four-goal haul against Essendon in Round 19. King is now locked away until the end of 2022 and the Suns believe he will continue his upward trajectory.

 

6. LUKOSIUS GROWTH

Like King, the 2018 No. 2 draft pick Jack Lukosius inked a contract extension until the end of 2022 and is a key-position prospect with plenty of upside. One recruiter billed the 19-year-old as a "once in a generation player", comparing him to St Kilda legend Nick Riewoldt. Lukosius spent much of his debut season as a defender, averaging 11.3 disposals, 240 metres gained and 4.3 marks. However, he hopes to join King in attack when his game and body further develop.

Jack Lukosius also extended his deal with the Suns. Picture: Getty Images
Jack Lukosius also extended his deal with the Suns. Picture: Getty Images

 

7. GREEN STAMP

The Suns enter 2020 with just one elite player on their list, according to Champion Data. That player is former Adelaide midfielder-forward Hugh Greenwood, who swapped colours during the trade period. Gold Coast gave up its third and fourth-round picks in exchange for the 27-year-old in what looks a value acquisition. Greenwood adds a hardened body to a young list and is a proven and consistent performer who averaged 17.1 disposals, 4.1 clearances, six tackles and 86 SuperCoach points in 14 games for the Crows last year.

 

8. ELECTRIC ELLIS

Greenwood was not the only experienced player to head north to Gold Coast during the trade period, with two-time Richmond premiership player Brandon Ellis also joining the Suns. The outside midfielder played 23 games for the Tigers last season, averaging 21.1 disposals, 2.4 inside-50s and 4.6 score involvements playing primarily on a wing. The 26-year-old has played 176 AFL games over eight seasons and the Suns believe he can complement their young group.

 

CHAMPION DATA SAYS

Similar to the start of 2019, things look bleak for Gold Coast heading into 2020. The Suns midfield, defence and forward line are all rated 18th in the competition. Once again, their youth will be relied upon, having 20 players in the age bracket of 18-21 years of age - the most of any side.

 

 

HOW YOUR CLUB IS TRACKING

 

2015: 16th - 4W, 1D, 17L

2016: 15th - 6W, 16L

2017: 17th - 6W, 16L

2018: 17th - 4W, 18L

2019: 18th - 3W, 19L

News Corp Australia


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