By DAN KELLY
The Gold Coast SUNS will look to rebound this year after a disappointing 2018 season which saw them miss finals. With a new-look list they will be a tough side to beat on their day this season.
After falling a step short of a NEAFL Grand Final in 2017, the SUNS dropped off in 2018 to finish 8th after the end of the regular season. After a 3-1 opening month and wins against grand finalists Sydney and Southport throughout the season, the SUNS were competitive, however a lacklustre end of season where they did not win a game for the last four weeks ultimately cost them a finals berth.
WHATS’S NEW IN 2019?
There is optimism to be had at the SUNS with a plethora of exciting young players picked up in the AFL Draft, plus state league recruits and mature age talent acquired through trades hitting the Gold Coast this year. A weakness of the SUNS last year was their depth and once the AFL side was rocked with injuries it took its’ toll on the NEAFL side. The loss of Michael Barlow and Matt Rosa amongst others will hurt from an experience point of view. However, the addition of several mature age players should see the SUNS be able to find that good mixture of experience and youth.
Gold Coast face a crucial opening month set of fixtures that will look to define their season from the get go. Of their opening four fixtures, three come against AFL club sides. The SUNS travel to Canberra Round 1 to take on the Demons before returning to the Gold Coast in Round 2 to take on the Swans. They then travel to Blacktown Round 3 to battle the GIANTS before a matchup against the Lions at Metricon Stadium prior to the QClash in Round 4.
2019 WILL BE A HIT IF…
The SUNS can consistently keep a competitive side on the park. The SUNS will attribute their 2018 woes to their NEAFL side being consistently ripped apart due to injuries in the senior side. The replenishment of mature agers and rookies acquired through the draft will help the SUNS launch a threat to the NEAFL competition if they can remain consistent throughout the year.
2019 WILL BE A MISS IF…
The rookies are not able to rise to the level. With the side made barren several weeks due to injuries in the senior side the impetus was placed upon the young base of the squad to step up in the absence of their key NEAFL players. The younger players in their first season weren’t able to rise to the level of NEAFL football which resulted in some disappointing results. It is inevitable the depth will be tested some weeks throughout the season which means the rookies will be required to step up and carry their weight at stages of the season.
The SUNS engine room is no doubt their biggest strength, and that will look to continue this year with their key midfielders Jacob Dawson and Will Brodie amongst others looking to play a key role in 2019. Both saw their share of AFL football last year off the base of solid NEAFL form and the two will likely look to kick off 2019 on a solid level again pushing for AFL selection.
All eyes will be on the Gold Coast SUNS pick 6 Ben King as he likely starts the season in the NEAFL. Standing at 202cm tall King is able to play forward or in defence, a handy ability for coach Nick Malceski as his side will likely change throughout the year with AFL selections. King was given All Australian honours for his role for Victoria Metro and should be a star in the SUNS side early on.
TO KICK THINGS OFF
Round 1 – April 6
Canberra Demons v Gold Coast SUNS at Alan Ray Oval, 12pm
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