LAUNCESTON, AUSTRALIA - MAY 25: James Sicily of the Hawks runs with the ball during the round 10 AFL match between the Hawthorn Hawks and the Port Adelaide Power at University of Tasmania Stadium on May 25, 2019 in Launceston, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Former Hawthorn great Ben Dixon has proposed the struggling Gold Coast Suns trade away their core of young talent for a nucleus of established players.

The bottom-of-the-ladder Suns slumped to their 12th-straight defeat last week as the expansion club endures arguably its darkest period since joining the league in 2011.

Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane recently revealed that the club will request a priority pick at next month’s AFL commission meeting, which would give them picks one and two in the national draft.

Speaking on the Fox Footy Podcast, Dixon said a much bolder approach was needed to make the Suns a competitive outfit, including trading away prized youngsters like Jack Lukosius and Ben King.

“When you’re developing a team — and I’ve experienced this at Hawthorn — it’s difficult to develop young kids if you don’t have legitimate experience and legitimate leaders at your footy club leading the way and the young kids follow. What happens is you lose your confidence and you lose your ability to develop and you’re caught between a rock and a hard place,” Dixon told the Fox Footy Podcast.

“My suggestion is to trade Lukosuis now and start that conversation now. Trade Ben King back to Melbourne right now. Trade every ounce of talent you have in that football club right now. You never know what you can get if you rip the cover off and say ‘righto, what’s on the table now in terms of talent?’
“Ultimately you can’t spin your wheels any longer. If a Lukosius wants to leave in two years — and I don’t have a crystal ball and I’m not privy to what’s happening inside that football club — but he’s a talent, he’s an Adelaide boy, you might be able to get something serious for him.

“I think you’ve got to trade in 12 players, minimum, that you can build a nucleus around. Then you start to revisit development stage, because at the moment it’s not acceptable. It’s not Stuey Dew’s fault at all, I think he’s a sensational coach.

“We’ve got to get it right now.”

Dixon said the Suns must recruit leaders who are committed to turning the club around, not just players heading north for a holiday or pay packet.

“You’ve got a senior player who’s got four or five years left that wants to give it his all, he’s morally sound, he’s got great character, he’s got great leadership and he’s got a lot of footy left in him and he’s a top quality player,” he said.

“You don’t know the answer as to whether he’ll go or not, but you’ve got to ask the question.

“How do you know a club won’t give up an A-grader if they get Pick 1, they get Lukosius and they get something else? Everything’s for sale in the AFL.

“What’s to say, for argument’s sake, that you went to a Hawthorn and you asked for a Sicily and you were prepared to give them the No. 1 pick, which gets them Matty Rowell, and someone else? Clubs will have a look and entertain that.

“You’ve got to be bold.”