Gold Coast chief executive Mark Evans will speak with the AFL over the next two months about whether to continue with the resurgent Suns’ much-scrutinized concessions.
Stuart Dew’s team sits 11th on the leaderboard with a 7-6 record over 14 rounds. Gold Coast has topped the win-loss list in a season since they finished 20th round 10-9 eight years ago.
The Suns are also ready to sign sought-after couple Izak Rankine and Jack Lukosius, as well as Lachie Weller, who is recovering from surgery after torn his cruciate ligament.
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A ladder of form in the last six weeks would put Gold Coast in 1st place in the AFL.
That significant progress after years in the wild and players picked up by Victorian clubs could mean the end of the AFL’s aid, but list boss Craig Cameron said they were “awaiting advice”.
“Our guys are starting to play enough games together to have real cohesion, which we’re seeing in some results on the ground,” Cameron said.
“But we’re far from satisfied with having turned the corner – we just have to keep going.”
Cameron said Evans would hold most of the talks with the AFL.
The departures of co-captains Tom Lynch and Steven May, along with others who became regulars for opposing teams, after the 2018 season provided a crossroads for the fledgling Queensland club.
The Suns didn’t win more than six games in any season between 2015 and 2019, and the AFL subsequently announced what was effectively a bailout.
They were already guaranteed the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft, but ended up getting the top two — picking Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson — but the concessions went well beyond that.
Gold Coast also earned an extra pick early in the second round that year, as well as a mid-first-round pick in 2020 and the first second-round pick in the 2021 draft.
The Suns sent this 2020 pick to Geelong to return in the 2019 draft and pick Jeremy Sharp at No. 27, while the 2021 pick was used as part of Will Brodie’s pay swap with Fremantle.
“It’s allowed us to have two really tough drafts where we’ve been able to bring in some young talent at the same time so they can grow together and be part of the club’s development,” Cameron said.
“So there’s no doubt that it helped with that and gave us some flexibility in making decisions. Our strategy was to go really hard on two drafts to consolidate the roster.
“Once some players left us at the end of 2018; It was important, we thought, to get a two-draft group through where that was their club and they were part of the growth.”
The AFL also expanded the Gold Coast academy entry zone to include Darwin, with the ability to pre-list players without having to match opposition bids.
Darwin talent Joel Jeffrey and Cairns-raised Alex Davies, who were touted as likely first-round draft picks two years ago, both came to Gold Coast this way.
The final part of the support package allowed the Suns to add up to 10 players to the rookie list, four more than any other club.
The Suns remain in the dark about whether they can pre-list potential Academy players ahead of this year’s draft or whether they can keep up to 10 players on the rookie roster.