The Gold Coast Suns received a franchise-saving raft of concessions before the 2019 AFL Draft, including four high draft picks across three drafts.
In total, 11 players on the Suns’ playing list will not be on the main list in 2021 and, while it seems like a major turnover of players, on closer inspection not many of these players were vital to the team’s success going forward.
None of the departing players figured in the top ten best and fairest in 2020 and while Anthony Miles and Pearce Hanley finished seventh and eighth respectively in 2019, their loss due to retirement should be covered by the recruitment of Rory Atkins (Adelaide) and Oleg Markov (Richmond). An indication of the building of talent at Gold Coast is shown by the fact that only two players finished in the best and fairest top ten for both years 2019 and 2020 and this year’s top ten included three players new to the club. The loss of only Peter Wright to another club during the trade period is a sign also that the talent drain has slowed, as is the fact that the top four game-players are still at the club.
Touk Miller is now in seventh position on the club’s all-time top 100 players list, making five of the Ttp ten still at the club and meaning that the ghosts of Gary Ablett, Tom Lynch, Steven Martin and Trent McKenzie are slowly fading.
Jarrod Harbrow – now 32 years old and a player at the club since its entry into the AFL a decade ago – needs to play only 12 games in 2021 to become the first 200-game player at the club while Sam Day and Alex Sexton should bring up their 150-game milestones during the season.
Game player number two on the list, David Swallow, has already achieved the 150-game milestone but sits 34 games behind Harbrow. However, being five years younger than Harbrow there appears little doubt that he is the heir apparent to take over the number one mantel sometime in the future. Sean Lemmens and Jarrod Witts should be the 15th and 16th players to play over 100 games for the Suns during the 2021 season.
Goal-kicking wise, Tom Lynch still holds the record and will do so for some time as he is 125 goals ahead of Alex Sexton who has moved into second place ahead of Gary Ablett and Brandon Matera. Sam Day should become Gold Coast’s fifth centurion sometime early in the new season.