We kick off our 2019 season previews with the Gold Coast Suns as they begin yet another rebuild.
After losing their foundation centrepiece and club captain Gary Ablett to Geelong after the 2017 season, the Suns endured a torrid 2018 season, finishing 17th with four wins.
After winning three of their first five games, Gold Coast went on an 11-game losing streak from round’s six to 18.
Things went from bad to worse for the club, with Tom Lynch ruled out for the season with a knee injury at the midway point of the season
With conjecture swirling around the futures of superstar co-captains Lynch and Steve May plus many others, the Suns limped to season’s end with five-straight losses, including 96 and 102-point defeats to Melbourne and Geelong respectively.
In: Corey Ellis (Richmond), Anthony Miles (Richmond), George Horlin-Smith (Geelong), Jack Hombsch (Port Adelaide), Jordan Murdoch (Geelong), Jack Lukosius (Pick 2, Woodville-West Torrens), Izak Rankine (Pick 3, West Adelaide), Ben King (Pick 6, Sandringham Dragons), Jez McLennan (Pick 23, Central District), Caleb Graham (Pick 71, Gold Coast Academy)
Offseason grade: C
After their dreadful 2018, the Suns saw a host of stars departing.
Hall, May, Lynch, Kolodjashnij and Scrimshaw all departed via trade or as restricted free agents, while Stuart Dew and co. made the head-scratching decision to delist Lyons, along with Barlow, Lonergan, Spencer and Willis.
However, the club has clearly doubled down on their investment in youth, drafting future stars Lukosius, Rankine and Ben King with three of the first six picks in last year’s draft.
Meanwhile, Ellis, Miles, Horlin-Smith and Hombsch also made their way to the Gold Coast via trade.
The Suns will be bitterly disappointed that highly-rated, untried defender Harrison Wigg will miss another year with injury after rupturing his ACL.
The Suns will be desperate to get some early wins on the board and inject some belief into this young side.
Gold Coast will want to take advantage of matches against fellow cellar-dwellers St Kilda, Fremantle, Western Bulldogs and Carlton in the first four rounds of the year.
A round four home game against Carlton already looms large as a huge game in the context of the Suns’ season.
Strengths and weaknesses
While the host of young guns on the Suns list should set up the club for long-term success, the list’s youth will also prove to be the club’s greatest weakness in 2019.
The sheer inexperience of the playing group will give the Suns some license to lose, and lose badly, as they most likely will while the club begins a fresh rebuild.
With the departures of May, Lynch, Lyons and Hall the team has had its experienced spine ripped out and questions remain over who can step up to fill the vacant corridor.
In a complete rebuild, expect blowouts in 2019 as Dew gets games into Gold Coast’s inexperienced recruits.
Don’t expect the Suns to top last season’s four wins, as a second wooden spoon in the club’s young history looms.