Can Gold Coast Be This Season's Surprise Package in the AFL?

2019-04-15 11:54:00 GMT

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Can Gold Coast Be This Season's Surprise Package in the AFL?

Ahead of the 2019 campaign, Gold Coast were widely tipped to pick up the wooden spoon in this season's AFL, but the Suns have defied expectations during the opening couple of weeks, and Stuart Dew's side are likely to pull off plenty more surprises between now and the end of the regular season. They were odds-on to finish bottom of the ladder, but their early-season form has made a mockery of those predictions. It's still early days, and there is plenty of football still left to play, but many pundits have been forced to re-evaluate their assessment of this young side. If they can maintain their early-season form, they could be one of the surprise packages of the AFL season.

Gold Coast have endured their fair share of problems over the last couple of years, with three captains departing the club in the last two seasons. The influential Gary Ablett was the first to leave, returning to Geelong after seven successful seasons with the Suns. He helped carry the club for several years, and he was soon followed out of the door by Steven May, who headed for the exit at the end of 2018. He played alongside Rory Thompson as part of a formidable back-line for the last eight years, but the partnership was broken up when the 27-year-old opted to join Melbourne last year.

Since his departure, the Suns have recruited Josh Drummond, who joins as the club's new back-line coach, and his expertise has helped them pick up two wins from their first three AFL games. They got off to a poor start, suffering a narrow 85-84 loss to St. Kilda, but they've shown tremendous spirit to bounce back with successive victories against the Dockers and the high-flying Western Bulldogs. Their five-point triumph against the latter exceeded all expectations, and they led from start to finish. Although there were some nervous moments along the way, Stuart Dew has his squad believing in themselves, and they are relishing the opportunity to play the role of underdogs.

Defender Jack Hombsch credited the club's coaching staff with instilling confidence in the side, and helping bring the players together during a tumultuous summer. He told reporters that Dew "backs everyone in with their talent and skills", and the players are clearly enjoying working with him.

Although very few supporters will be getting carried away at this embryonic stage of the campaign, there is a quiet confidence amongst the players, and many believe that the Suns can challenge for the play-offs. They are 10/1 in the latest Aussie Rules betting markets to finish in the top eight, and they have already proved that they can compete admirably with the bigger sides.

Although they don't have many household names, the collective team spirit should enable them to continue climbing the ladder. Jack Martin was outstanding at the Marvel Stadium on April 7th, whilst Brayden Fiorini and Touk Miller also made a positive impression against the Bulldogs.

The addition of an elite fitness program is another step in the right direction, and should help star players avoid lengthy spells on the sidelines this season. Departing captains have made thinly-veiled jibes about the poor fitness levels at the club, but that looks set to become to be a thing of the past. The Suns appear to be moving in a positive direction, both on and off the field, and on current form, they look set to avoid the dubious honour of collecting the 2019 wooden spoon.


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