Why the Gold Coast Suns need Kurt Tippett
Kurt Tippett has a big decision to make regarding his future over the next few months. But his hometown team, the Gold Coast Suns, should be doing everything they can to make it simple.
Talks between Adelaide and the power forward have reached stalemate status, and the two sides from his native Queensland – the Lions and the Suns – are sniffing around.
Thanks to the ongoing Cloke and Boak dramas, Tippett’s reluctance to pen a new deal at West Lakes has largely gone unnoticed. Until now.
Over the last week or so, the paper talk has gone up a notch.
Is his management only using Queensland interest as leverage for a better deal, or does he really want to come home?
Are the Crows concerned about losing him and genuinely interested in Travis Cloke as a back-up option, or are they just trying to play contract chicken?
Yesterday on Triple M Adelaide, Mark Ricciuto claimed that Tippett is ‘as good as gone’. Clearly, this saga is just getting started.
Whatever the case, Gold Coast need to get serious when it comes to the 25-year-old Southport product – because he is the guy who could bring it all together for them.
On Saturday night, the Suns enjoyed their first win at Metricon Stadium – but the nature of their 30-point victory over Greater Western Sydney exposed the one massive deficiency that time alone is no guarantee to fix.
Despite the promise of Sam Day and Tom Lynch, there is a gaping, key forward-sized hole that needs to be filled if the expansion side are to make the leap forward that is expected of them in 2013.
Plonk Tippett in the goalsquare and the young Suns become instantly more competitive.
Gold Coast’s first half against the Giants was borderline acceptable. Against an established club, they would have been brushed aside with ease.
In two quarters they had 33 inside 50s to the GWS’ 14 – and from that you would expect a much bigger lead than just 13 points. That’s the kind of waste that gets punished by good teams.
The rebound stats (27-8 in the visitors’ favour) reflected poor efficiency and a subsequent struggle to keep the ball locked in their half.
Indeed, Gold Coast’s inability to put teams away when they have the opportunity has, on a number of occasions – against Essendon, Fremantle, North Melbourne and Brisbane, all at Metricon – been the difference between a win and a loss.
For the club’s first two years, beltings have been chalked up as learning experiences. But from 2013 onwards, more will be expected.
The absence of a true key forward and a lack of composure from the players bringing the ball forward has resulted in a consistently inconsistent, haphazard approach in attack.
The latter is acceptable with young players – once the team’s runners start accepting their place in the AFL, they’ll embrace the natural poise that comes with experience.
But if the recent (and long-awaited) rise of Geelong powerhouse Tom Hawkins has taught us anything, it’s that the former could take at least five years to resolve itself.
While we wait for Day and Lynch, Tippett provides not only a realistic shortcut, but a player who will be in his prime when the era of Coast dominance arrives.
With him as a centrepiece, all of a sudden the Suns’ attacking structures become clearer.
Brandon Matera and Aaron Hall, who were both terrific against the Giants with three goals each, would know with near-certainty where the ball was headed, instead of scrambling across half the field for it.
Too often against GWS, the crumbers were elsewhere when the ball came to ground, allowing the visitors to escape danger with ease.
Tippett would also demand the opposition’s best defender, taking pressure off the growing shoulders of Day or Lynch, who have been asked too much of this year and have had trouble with injury as a result.
That’s just the on-field stuff. What an statement it would be if the cute and cuddly Gold Coast Suns were able to land one of the big fish.
And unlike last year – when they were toying with the idea of going after Tippett – there is no other void that needs to be filled, or no young gun like Jaeger O’Meara they were desperate to grab.
Pre-selected at the end of last year, O’Meara will find it difficult to squeeze his way into the club’s brilliant starting midfield – which is exactly the kind of headache Guy McKenna needs.
Put broken leg victim Nathan Bock next to recruit Matthew Warnock in defence, and the picture gets even rosier.
The gems are starting to emerge from a talented ruck division. There is plenty of rebound from the back.
But a true spearhead is missing. And Tippett is the final piece of the puzzle.
Vince Rugari is an Adelaide-born journalist who cut his teeth on the sporting graveyard that is the Gold Coast. He fancies the round ball and the Sherrin, and used to be a handy leg-spin bowler before injury curtailed a baggy green push. He is a Port Adelaide fan by birth, as painful as that has been recently. He's now sports editor of The Area News in Griffith, NSW.
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