Essendon’s favourite son David Zaharakis retired this year following a 13-season, 226-game career that included an Anzac Day Medal plus a Bombers Best and Fairest Crichton Medal.
We can expect to see a few things from the Suns in 2012. More development. More competitiveness. Much excitement. But finals? No. Bottom four? Yes.
There’s nothing new there. It will be another tough yet constructive year as the Suns enter their second season. After looking at everything, I give the Suns a pass mark.
Last year they recorded three wins, beating Port Adelaide, Brisbane and Richmond. They lost 19, and around 14 were thumpings.
I was impressed with the young Gold Coast team’s competitiveness against West Coast (round 11), Western Bulldogs (round 14), St Kilda (round 19), Melbourne (round 23) and Hawthorn (round 24).
As predicted by all, Gary Ablett Jnr was awarded the club’s inaugural best and fairest ahead of Nathan Bock and Michael Rischitelli. The league’s number one draft pick David Swallow came in fourth. Danny Stanley pipped Ablett as the leading goalkicker with 20 (Ablett finished with 18).
Ablett enhanced his reputation in his first year at the club and was recognised on Brownlow night with 23 votes and being named All-Australian captain. In 2012, he will again set the standard for leadership, skills, courage and the desire to win.
The Brownlow medallist heads up a promising midfield that comprises Rischitelli, Swallow, the booming left-footer Trent McKenzie, Jared Brennan and Harley Bennell.
Down back the Suns have Bock and Jarrod Harbrow, who took much of the workload. ‘H’ was one of only three to play in all 22 games. Gold Coast also has the ill-disciplined and overrated Campbell Brown.
The forward line is where the Gold Coast lacks most, and where it will again struggle this year. The Suns recorded the worst accuracy in front of goals with 50.51 per cent. They ranked second last for inside-50s.
Guy McKenna copped plenty of criticism last year when he let his boys go one-on-one, however I’m sure that will pay off. Yes, Scott Thompson racked up more than 50 disposals against them, but what better way to learn?
McKenna has plenty to do with these kids. We will probably see the heavy rotation policy that he implemented last year, in addition to some extra oomph after time spent in Arizona.
Bennell is one player to keep an eye on: watch him apply pressure to his opponents. Josh Caddy is another: he only played two games last season, including the final round when he picked up an impressive 16 disposals, two goals, and five tackles against the Hawks.
Watch for improvement from Charlie Dixon too, who is coming back from a hip injury. I foresee Piers Flanagan having an impact. Others to watch are McKenzie and Dion Prestia, who will need to improve in front of the big sticks.