Written by AFL Online on 12th May 2011
There has been a fair amount of hate and love generated for the most talked about three words in the AFL vocabulary over the past couple of years. The three words have been embraced, frowned upon, cheered, laughed at and ridiculed. But it is a project created by the AFL that requires time and patience with a lot of money being injected into it. I’m sure you’re all aware of the words I’m referring to; Gold Coast Suns. And yeah, you could even make a strong case for Gary Ablett Junior. (Boom Boom)
But no, i’m referring to the newest franchise inducted into the AFL this year. The hype around this one club has been monstrous. And they thoroughly deserve it. Once the AFL Commission approved the club’s new identity, Suns, this new AFL start-up side began its quest to rise up by wearing the red and yellow of the iconic Queensland lifesaver.
Over the course of the first 7 rounds, we have seen quite a few negatives on display but with that we witnessed a few positives that would have seen the big shots at AFL HQ crack a smile. The initiation over the first 3 rounds wasn’t pretty. 3 losses with a combined losing margin of 290 points doesn’t bode well. However it was clear to see, in spits and bursts, that there was young talent in Queensland waiting to be unleashed. And in the 2 awe-inspiring wins to date, we clearly saw just what the list is capable of. Showing plenty of guts and passion, the Suns notched wins coming from two highly different positions.
In round 5 against Port Adelaide at AAMI stadium, the Suns were down by 40 points very late in the 3rd quarter but managed to show determination to keep fighting until the siren. It was this attitude that achieved the unthinkable of winning a game in their first season. This was achieved with a 3 point margin. They could have given up and gone on to say it was a majestic loss and we tried really hard but a valiant loss wasn’t good enough for the Suns. They wanted a win and saw an opportunity in front of them and took advantage of it. History was created and the memory will be forever burned into the minds of everyone associated with the Gold Coast Suns.
In Round 7, the first ever game between the two Queensland teams took place at the GABBA. Billed as the Q clash, the Brisbane Lions went in red hot favourites which was an odd situation as they were sitting rock bottom of the competition. However, the Suns came out to compete and quickly took up a 20 point lead over their much fancied opponents. They played highly competitive footy and maintained the lead throughout the game. As is the case with a very young team, they tired in the last and the Lions mounted another challenge. Scores became level and with 5 mins left, it was anyone’s game. Gold Coast discovered the character within them and kept battling to grind out a nail biting 8 point win. This win displayed plenty of maturity amongst the team to lift in the final moments when the game was there to be won.
The season summary may only read 2 wins and 4 losses with a shocking percentage of 52.89 but it shows that the Suns are capable of winning and are more importantly being competitive with teams that are on a similar level as them.
Amongst the plethora of junior talent, are senior players recruited from different AFL clubs. Since their first game, the media and public have shown a negative nature towards the senior talent. Some have said they are only there for the money, treating their time up there as a holiday or even as low as saying they are simply not that talented. But these players are worthy of pulling on the jumpers for the Suns. Each individual possess skills that will help create the Suns into a force in the near future. In Gary Ablett Jnr, Michael Rischitelli, Daniel Harris and Jarad Brennan, the Suns have 4 physically capable bodies of winning the hard ball and providing contests around the ground. Nathan Bock is the solid pillar in defence while Jarrod Harbrow provides the dash and carry off the halfback line. Campbell Brown is simply there for his toughness but getting suspended for 4 weeks was a poor result on his behalf. Nathan Krakouer is used as a livewire forward and to encourage the youngsters into applying forward pressure. Josh Fraser is used to bolster the ruck stocks however it is his tutelage of fellow ruckman, Zac Smith, that is really paying dividends. Zac Smith has a brilliant footy brain and his ruckwork to date has been very appealing. Under the guidance of Fraser, Smith received the NAB rising star nomination for the round 7 win against the Lions. The second most hyped about recruit though has been Karmichael Hunt. The rugby league/union convert has adapted to AFL in a mediocre manner. He hasn’t provided anything amazing for the highlights reel. Plenty of laughs though. He only manages a handful of possessions a game and still lacks match awareness and fitness. I believe he will find his feet eventually but for the time being we will have to cringe every time he goes near the ball. His recruitment was solely for a marketing purpose anyway and it has helped greatly in the rugby orientated state.
Gold Coast received numerous concessions in the 2010 draft and with that they were able to select the majority of the young raw talent that the country had to offer. These kids dominated at juniors level but have found the going tough in their first year of AFL. No one is hassling them for out-performing though.They are simply lightweights taking on the heavyweights. Their bodies are not hardened enough, they lack in match fitness, they lack team cohesion and also are simply not used to the step up in intensity of AFL games. Without a doubt, there has been improvement over the course of the year. They show pure brilliance for a quarter but then get blown away in the other 3. The consistency will arrive for the kids. They have played football for years and it wont be too long until they are regular performers each week. The likes of David Swallow, Brandon Matera, Josh Toy, Trent Mckenzie, Charlie Dixon, Zac Smith, Liam Patrick and Tom Lynch have future stars written over their gameplay.
The team being built up on the Gold Coast is a scary prospect. Already showing guts and determination within 6 games, the AFL public ponder how amazing will these kids be at their peak in roughly 6 years. Sure the mature age recruits would be nearing the end of their own careers but the foundation has been laid for these batch of youngsters to play with each other for a lengthy amount of time. There is a strong possibility that a premiership could be achieved within 6 years. Let the bodies of the Suns’ players harden up over the next 2 years and they will seriously mount a challenge for that holy grail.
The public need to lay off the criticism of the Suns. Just simply sit back and appreciate the fact that we are part of a revolution within the AFL. Yes the maulings aren’t ideal to watch but in order to reach the top, you have to start from the bottom. I’m a big fan of our new team and can not wait to see the day where other teams fear the Suns