AFL Rd 6 - Melbourne v Gold Coast
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 11: Izak Rankine of the Suns kicks celebrates after kicking his first AFL goal during the round 6 AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Gold Coast Suns at GIANTS Stadium on July 11, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/AFL Photos/via Getty Images)

Amid rising pressure surrounding the club's youngsters who are nearing the end of their contract, Suns coach Stuart Dew has broken his silence over the possible exodus of talent.

2022 marks the end of a number of prodigious player's deals with the Suns, with the likes of Ben King, Izak Rankine and Jack Lukosius all currently without commitments beyond the end of this season.

Gold Coast have developed some of the best youngsters across the country since their inception in 2011 however have yet to make it stick in the big time, not having appeared in a finals series to date.

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With Dew under the pump coming into this season after another mediocre 2021, the former Hawk has thrown his support behind the club to retain most, if not all, of their off-contract stars.

"We certainly feel we're the place for them," Dew told AFL.com.au.

"We're confident we can facilitate their careers, hitting the high notes they want and crave.

"We've changed the outlook where players are saying "what can you do for me" … one thing I'm proud of at this footy club is this is not an entitled footy club now.

"The better we help them and the more they help us, in the end, it's just we, it's not them and us, and that's the feeling we get across the board."

Lukosius, Rankine and King - snatched up by the Suns at pick numbers 2, 3 and 6 respectively in the 2018 draft - have all caught the eye of the footballing world at some point throughout their brief careers on the Gold Coast.

It was Rankine however who had by far the most eye-catching debut season out of the trio, bursting onto the scene in a pandemic-interrupted 2020 by booting six goals in his first three games at AFL level.

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The 21-year-old's fortunes did taper off in 2021, appearing 18 times for Stuart Dew's side and booting 16 majors for the year, however, Dew is certain that he will recommit to the club and come alive once again in 2022.

"I’ve got no doubt that Izak sees himself as a Gold Coast Sun," Dew said.

"That’s great for us, it’s also good for him. We think this is a great place for him to play his footy.

IZAK RANKINE
Forward
Gold Coast
2021 SEASON AVG
11.8
Disposals
2.8
Marks
0.9
Goals

"Often younger players when they come in, they're unsure of their capabilities physically. I think Izak's starting to learn he can go as hard as he wants, he can recover, then go again.

"In the AFL you've just got to keep showing up, and someone with the tools he's got and the skills, if he does that, he's going to impact games for sure."

In a utopian world, having a plethora of young talent at the club means that eventually, things will finally stick for the team as the players develop and fulfil their potential.

However, the Suns seem to not be able to get it right at this point in time, with the club now in its 12th season in the competition with no tangible reward to show for their progress.

The aforementioned King's tragic ACL injury has stripped Dew of another key position player for the second year running, with 2021 seeing the Suns' ruck stocks stripped down to a skeleton crew after the same injury to co-captain Jarrod Witts.

To cover for the absence of King, the Suns will likely call on former Tiger Mabior Chol to fill the young star's role down forward whilst new recruit Mac Andrew may be able to pitch in, with overhead marking ability being a huge feature of his game.

It's do-or-die for the Suns in 2022, with another Round 1 faceoff against the undermanned Eagles set to show whether or not the side has made tracks over the summer relative to the teams around them.