It might seem strange timing to be optimistic around the Gold Coast Suns with the position they currently occupy after suffering a 77 point loss to West Coast in round 10. Gold Coast is currently placed 15th on the ladder and is currently on a seven game losing streak. The Suns need to remain positive the tide will eventually turn and they can play finals football in the near future. Does Gold Coast have any right to be optimistic?
The last five games have seen the Suns lose by an average losing margin of 87 points so it is difficult to argue the team is currently competitive. Poor performance can be for a number of factors and one such factor is injuries. People do not like to hear injury as an excuse for performance but in the case of the Suns it is difficult to ignore both the quantity and quality of players unavailable.
Those currently missing include Jaeger O’Meara, Rory Thompson, David Swallow, Danny Stanley, Alex Sexton, Adam Saad, Matt Rosa, Touk Miller, Jordan McKenzie, Mitch Hallahan and Jarrad Grant among others. Captain Gary Ablett has had his injury battles in the last two seasons and other key players have missed significant football.
Accordingly the spotlight has been put on the Gold Coast fitness and medical team regarding the management of players. Many in the media were questioning the Suns lengthy injury list last season and 2016 appears to be Déjà vu. It is difficult to win games of football when half a team is missing.
A mass exodus of players leaving is often the concern for a struggling team. Jaeger O’Meara , Dion Prestia and David Swallow have been linked with moves away from the Suns. The club remains positive that O’Meara will stay and Swallow is still under contract for next season. Sean Lemmens and Adam Saad in the last week have signed contract extensions to remain at the Suns in a show of faith the club can move forward in the right direction.
There are enough examples within the AFL that should give Gold Coast impetus that things can quickly turn around and Port Adelaide is a prime example. In 2012 Port Adelaide was considered a basket case. Matthew Primus was sacked as coach, the team only won 5 games for the year and many experts felt Port had one of the worst playing lists in the AFL and it would be years before they could contemplate finals football.
Fast forward a year and those opinions were turned upside down. In 2013 Port Adelaide played finals football, made a Preliminary Final in 2014 and in 2015 Port Adelaide was considered underachievers for not challenging for the Premiership. It does not take long for expectation to change both internally and externally within the AFL world.
Teams such as Melbourne who have long been considered a rabble seem to be moving in the right direction and Carlton has won five games thus far in 2016 when many pundits felt they would struggle to be competitive.
The AFL competition is designed to give every team the opportunity to play finals football and win a Premiership .The Salary Cap and Draft are two measures to help safeguard this. If a team has a poor year and finishes in a lowly position they are rewarded with better draft picks. If clubs draft well this should give them the best young talent available.
Of course counter arguments exist regarding inequalities that currently exist within the competition. Draft concessions for certain teams, priority picks, father-son qualification, fixture list and many clubs have been outspoken regarding the football academies and zones that GWS appear to be profiting from.
But the AFL can point to the fact in the last ten years between 2005 and 2015 with the exception of the expansion teams that every AFL team has played finals football.
|2005||Sydney||West Coast||St Kilda||Adelaide|
|2007||Geelong||Port Adelaide||Collingwood||North Melbourne|
|2008||Hawthorn||Geelong||St Kilda||Western Bulldogs|
|2009||Geelong||St Kilda||Collingwood||Western Bulldogs|
|2010||Collingwood||St Kilda||Geelong||Western Bulldogs|
|2014||Hawthorn||Sydney||Port Adelaide||North Melbourne|
|2015||Hawthorn||West Coast||Fremantle||North Melbourne|
The above table confirms that in the last ten years there have been five Premiership teams. St Kilda, Port Adelaide, Fremantle have contested Grand Finals and another three teams have reached a Preliminary Final. It vindicates the views of the AFL that a well-run club does not need to be a permanent cellar dweller.
Gold Coast along with Brisbane has had to deal with many question marks around the state of AFL football in Queensland. Rodney Eade knows the best way to respond to criticism is winning games of football. Finals football is very unlikely this season but Eade will hope the wheel does begin to turn because AFL history shows that nothing lasts forever.
by Liam Sheedy – contributor