Off-Season Preview - Gold Coast Suns

Picks: 2, 17, 26, 29, 38, 41, 74 and 92. (Probably allocated pick 3 compensation for Tom Lynch leaving and also pick 21 as a priority pick)

Out of Contract:
•    Aaron Hall
•    Aaron Young
•    Darcy Macpherson
•    Harrison Wigg
•    Jack Leslie
•    Jacob Dawson (rookie)
•    Jacob Heron (rookie)
•    Jarrod Harbrow
•    Jarrod Witts
•    Jarryd Lyons
•    Jesse Lonergan
•    Josh Jaska (rookie)
•    Kade Kolodjashnij
•    Mackenzie Willis (gone)
•    Matthew Rosa (already retired)
•    Max Spencer
•    Michael Barlow (goooone)
•    Michael Rischitelli 
•    Tom Lynch (gawnnnnnnn)

To most clubs, the off-season represents usually one of two things; the ability to rebuild from the ground up and find several young guns to build the future of the club around, or the chase for that elusive remaining piece of the puzzle that will lead to a premiership in the coming years.

For the Gold Coast, it’s simply finding 40 bodies on a list that are of AFL standard who want to be at a club that may not be in existence in five years’ time. It’s no easy task facing Stuart Dew and his deputies whatsoever.

No club finds themselves at the mercy of the whims of their playing list quite like the Suns. Whilst other clubs gather to work out who they can offload to other clubs to their own tactical advantage, the Suns wait for the instructions of player agents as to preferred destination clubs, and subsequently hope that their leverage in any potential trade is furthered by having several interested bidders, rather than taking whatever the one club is prepared to offload instead of risking losing the player for nothing.

From here flows the reprieves for honest triers, veterans on their last legs, players with plenty of flair and no defensive side, players with “colourful” off-field behaviors or local kids that have failed to attract the eye of rugby recruiters.

It is for this very scenario, that I believe it is in the best interests of the Gold Coast Suns to match the free agency offers made for Tom Lynch. Even if it is at the expense of pick 3.

Whilst it’s a common observation that the gap between 1st and 8th has never been narrower, it is equally true that the gap between sneaking into the eight and finishing last has also never been greater. Currently that gap is 11 wins - only once before has this been equaled (2012, the debut year of the GWS Giants). By allowing Lynch to walk to a team that will hand over no direct compensation only widens that gap.

Matching the bid for Lynch says to Hawthorn, Collingwood and Richmond that if they’re going to take Lynch, they may as well make it worthwhile, an all or nothing scenario that sees them well and truly in premiership contention, or bombing out in spectacular fashion, having paid handsomely to secure him (both in the context of Lynch’s lofty salary expectations and the price paid to the Suns to secure a trade).

It also addresses the obvious list discrepancies that the Suns will face this season, with all three clubs with list depth to spare. Richmond with Anthony Miles, Shai Bolton and Sam Lloyd doing very little outside of the VFL would provide a handy package alongside Richmond’s first round draft pick for this season and next.  As would an equivalent return from Hawthorn featuring Ryan Schoenmakers and Ryan Burton.

Whilst perhaps not as handy as pick 3 in a well touted draft, it’s a pragmatic approach to the issues plaguing their list and their club.

I suspect that no sooner has the last pot been sunk at Mad Monday, will Aaron Hall inform the club of his desire to move south. As mentioned earlier, this will be a prime example of the Gold Coast forced to accept whatever it is given, with clubs unlikely to match North Melbourne’s offer for Hall. With Port demanding pick nine for Jared Polec, and North requiring picks to acquire Taryn Thomas as an academy pick, it remains to be seen what North can provide outside of future draft picks, something the Suns probably have no use for at this stage. Would the likes of Taylor Garner or Braydon Preuss suffice?

A three-way deal between the Suns, Port and North may end up being a necessity.

North Melbourne receive: Aaron Hall, Jared Polec.

Port Adelaide receive: North Melbourne’s pick 9 and future first round pick 2019.

Gold Coast receive: Travis Boak.

This would arguably be the best result for the Gold Coast, and would provide sufficient salary cap space for Port Adelaide also. Would the Suns consider Travis Boak? Or more accurately, would Travis Boak consider the Suns? Boak’s leadership during the dark days at Port Adelaide are understated within the competition. It’s difficult to imagine where the Power would be had he not knocked back the huge offer from Geelong at the time. He still has plenty of football left in the tank at 29, but has clearly fallen down the pecking order at Port, behind Wines, Rockliff and Powell-Pepper for inside mid positions, and played out of position as a small forward.

From there, a lot depends on what Steven May decides to do. If May leaves, you may as well pack the club up and hand the keys back. More practically, it probably determines the future of Jack Leslie. If May decides to stay, I’d imagine Leslie’s paperwork is stamped, but a reprieve may otherwise be in order, as arguably the best alternative at full back available.

Other than Leslie, we see Michael Barlow and Mackenzie Willis already informed they will not be offered another contract, and I suspect Jesse Lonergan's papers are stamped also. Harbrow, Witts and Lyons are must-signs. I can’t see Kolodjashnij or Darcy McPherson leaving after their injury troubles. That leaves at least seven spots to be filled on the Gold Coast list assuming Steven May stays.  Michael Rischitelli appears to be on his last legs, but I just can’t reconcile the Suns being able to part ways with his leadership and experience at this stage.

If you believe that the Suns do not match the Lynch offers, and that the priority pick allocated to them will be one at the end of the first round, that gives the Suns picks of 2, 3, 17, 21, 26, 29, 38 and 41.  It will be interesting to see how the precedent set by the overs paid for Lachie Weller last season will impact the Suns’ trading efforts this year. Teams are now well aware that the Suns don’t value the picks as highly toward the building of their list and will seek top dollar. Another reason for the Suns needing to match the Lynch offer.

The Suns have also been linked to free-agent George Horlin-Smith, Carlton forward Levi Casboult and Sydney premiership captain, Jarrad McVeigh. Linking McVeigh up with his former assistant coach in Dew is a must for the club. Having seen the impact Luke Hodge has had this season at their crosstown rivals, Brisbane has shown the necessity of good leadership behind the ball and being able to marshal the younger players into position. Yet the Swans remain adamant that McVeigh is going nowhere and will be at the club in one capacity or another for next season.

If the Suns are unsuccessful in landing McVeigh, they must look for similar leadership elsewhere or risk handing the keys back to AFL House sooner than they want.

See Cam's preview of the Carlton off-season here

Cam Read will be providing the off-season outlook for all clubs over the next little while. If you want to give us a Like on Facebook or a Follow on Twitter, we’d really appreciate it. 

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