MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 31: Suns head coach Stuart Dew walks celebrates the win with Jarryd Lyons of the Suns during the round two AFL match between the Carlton Blues and the Gold Coast Suns at Etihad Stadium on March 31, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

Last Season

Nothing short of a disaster in 2019, the Gold Coast Suns lost 18 games on the bounce and didn’t look like winning any of them. Coach Stuart Dew though is safe as houses it seems, the Suns look set to offer Dew a two-year extension despite last years failings.

The Suns started well winning 3 of their first 4- losing that one game by a point- but fell away dramatically. All their wins were by under a goal.

Off-season grade

In: Hugh Greenwood (Adelaide), Brandon Ellis (Richmond), Zac Smith (Geelong), Matt Rowell (Pick 1, Oakleigh Chargers), Noah Anderson (Pick 2 Oakleigh Chargers), Sam Flanders (Pick 11, Gippsland Power), Jeremy Sharpe (Pick 27, East Fremantle), Jy Farrar (Pick 60, Adelaide SANFL), Connor Buduarick (Pick 16, rookie draft, Gold Coast Academy), Matt Conroy (Pick 29, rookie draft, Gold Coast Academy), Malcolm Rosas Jr (Pick 37, rookie draft, NT Thunder).

Out: Callum Ah Chee (Brisbane), Brayden Crossley (delisted), Jack Leslie (delisted), Jack Martin (delisted), Tom Nicholls (retired), Connor Nutting (delisted), Michael Rischitelli (retired), Brad Scheer (delisted), Harrison Wigg (delisted), Aaron Young (delisted).

Off-season grade: C-

It’s not a failure that’s for sure. They have done well at the draft, but how could they not? Landing Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson with picks one and two. Free Agency was also kind to the Suns as they landed dual premiership star Brandon Ellis from Richmond. Ellis is a class addition to a midfield that needs the guidance and Ellis has plenty of success to talk about.

Hugh Greenwood was another valueless pick-up but perhaps comes in on a salary a touch over his market value. His demands were enough for Adelaide to let him walk and while Champion Data rates him as elite there are still some queries on his output.

Where the Suns fell down was once again losing one of their better players. Jack Martin requested a trade to Carlton and the Suns rightfully set the bar high – they demanded two first-round draft picks. Carlton stood form on their offer of two second-round selections and no deal was struck. The error in the Suns strategy was the fact Martin then walked out the door for free to the Blues via the pre-season draft. Making a stand was the right call but the stubbornness cost them.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA – JULY 13: Hugh Greenwood of the Crows celebrates his goal during the round 17 AFL match between the Gold Coast Suns and the Adelaide Crows at Metricon Stadium on July 13, 2019 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Jono Searle/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

Defining Period

The test comes early for the Suns. There needs to be signs of genuine improvement and fast. Rounds 3-5 prove critical as they play some winnable games – the Suns host Sydney before travelling to Perth to take on Fremantle and then welcome the Demons to Metricon. They play Geelong and Port Adelaide before this stretch so face a very possible 0-2 start, wins here are crucial.

Best 22

B: Jarrod Harbrow, Rory Thompson, Pearce Hanley

HB: Charlie Ballard, Sam Collins, Lachie Weller

C:  Brandon Ellis, Hugh Greenwood, Touk Miller

HF: Izak Rankine, Ben King, Alex Sexton

F:  Sam Day, Peter Wright, Ben Ainsworth

FOLL: Jarrod Witts, David Swallow, Brayden Fiorini

I/C: Darcy Macpherson, Jack Lukoscious, Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson

Youth is the way forward for the Suns, Izak Rankine, Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell will all be in the Suns best team immediately. Both mature age recruits, Brandon Ellis and Hugh Greenwood walk into the line-up to balance the youth with some experience.

Anthony Miles and Jack Bowes are stiff to miss out here but the new recruits have to be in the side round one.

Champion Data says: “What should excite Gold Coast is this years draft haul. They have been screaming out for midfielders and finally have three standout first-round draft picks that should help fix this issue. Matt Rowell is a star recording the best ever NAB League grand final based off Champion Data ranking points. Noah Anderson is a goal kicking midfielder, averaging 28 disposals and two goals at the NAB League. Sam Flanders is a creative midfielder who can also play as a forward. The additions of Hugh Greenwood and Brandon Ellis will also add to this midfield mix.”

Strengths and Weaknesses: The Suns’ strength lies in their key backs. Rory Thompson is as valiant a competitor as their comes and can more then hold his own against some the games best key forwards. Thompson missed 2019 with an ACL injury. Sam Collins proved himself to be one of the games emerging intercept markers last season in Thompson’s absence. He reads the ball exceptionally well and has the courage to beck himself in the air. The Suns faced more inside 50’s then anyone else and Collins helped the Suns from suffering some even worse beatings.

Winning the ball is a clear issue for the Suns. They struggle to find the ball and do not have a major ball winner. Matt Rowell looks like the solution to this issue however he is yet to play a game and can’t be expected to carry this midfield just yet. They’ve recruited to fix the problem but there’s still work to do.

Prediction: 18th

The Suns have bolstered their list somewhat and natural improvement should see them become more competitive, but that’s where the focus should be. The Suns need to be competitive, then and only then can they worry about wins and losses and moving off the foot of the ladder.