The Gold Coast Suns have to prove that they have more character and resilience than they showed in season 2021, where they finished 16th.
The fact that eight of their 15 losses were by 50 points or more in season 2021, which is more than half of the games that they lost, shows that they weren’t at the races for a larger portion of the season.
That makes it clear and obvious that it’s inconceivable that the Suns aim should be even in the conversation when it comes to which teams can make finals in season 2022.
There’s no doubt that the Suns must improve their performances. Granted, they did have Jarrod Witts out through injury for the entirety of 2021 and they missed his leadership. They did manage to win seven games in 2021, but they need to show more vigour and character in season 2022. Their list may be the fourth youngest, but they need to be competitive to build up a sustainable following and brand.
Sam Collins was a revelation for the Suns in season 2021. At times, he played for two players. He played with plenty of endeavour and never gave up even when the game was effectively over from a scoreboard perspective.
Collins’ never-say-die attitude should be contagious in season 2022. He is a key defender of high quality. The three games that he missed were in Round 13, Round 14 and Round 15. In Round 15 they lost to the wooden spooners; he should play every game when available for selection.
Despite missing three games and being omitted from the Suns team, Collins finished fourth in their best and fairest in season 2021 and averaged the most intercepts of any Suns player with an average of 7.00 per game.
Ben King had the highest average goals per game of any Suns player in season 2021 with an average of 2.14 goals per game. He needs to build on that, as it didn’t impact the manner in which he was rated within the club; he finished outside of the top ten in the Suns best and fairest. He failed to kick a goal on seven occasions; unacceptable for a player of his calibre.
Ben King (Photo by Graham Denholm/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
King averaged the fourth highest contested marks of any Suns player, which is simply not good enough for a player of his ability, with an average of 1.09 contested marks per game. That’s why at times his body language can appear to be laconic.
He needs to provide a contest for the other players to benefit from and draw defenders to him, in order for his talent to come to fruition in season 2022.
Touk Miller had an outstanding season 2021. He was extremely consistent and needs to replicate his consistency, as he will play a key role in how the Suns’ season goes in 2022. To be chosen in the AFL All Australian team in 2021 shows what an impact he had and the part he played in the Suns avoiding the dreaded wooden spoon.
Miller’s stats were prolific; they speak for themselves, but he had the second highest average tackles of any Suns player in season 2021 with 7.10 tackles per game, as Hugh Greenwood had the highest average tackles of any Suns player with an average of 8.60 tackles per game. It’s a key indicator that even though Miller was outstanding he has room for improvement, as Hugh Greenwood will be a big loss for the Suns.
The one game that Miller missed was in Round 9 through suspension, the Suns lost by 73 points to the Brisbane Lions. That’s an indication that he was a bit of a barometer for the Suns.
He averaged the fifth most disposals of anyone in the AFL with an average of 31.81 and had at least 20 disposals or more in each of his games. Along with that, he averaged the second most metres gained of any Suns player with an average of 417.90 metres, which is impressive for a midfielder.
Miller doesn’t need to have the captaincy as he leads by example. He is the player who other teams could look to tag, which should give an opportunity for the likes of Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson to benefit from.
Jack Lukosius is a utility and capable of filing a number of roles when called upon. As a matter of fact, he could be used anywhere from centre half back to centre half forward, on the wing or as a second ruck. He has so much potential to plug the gaps that the Suns have.
The fact that he finished tenth in the Suns best and fairest in season 2021 indicates that he needs to improve, given that he didn’t miss a game. He did manage to average an impressive 20.09 disposals per game. He has to contribute more to the team – if he does, the sun will shine on the Suns!
The 2021 version of the Suns took about two quarters before it started looking a little less shiny and filled with hope, as Matt Rowell copped another tight tag and was intentionally injured for the second straight game having been rubbed out in a similar dirty tackle in 2020.
Last month’s national draft was the first opportunity for 2003-born prospects to be drafted to an AFL club, followed by the pre-season draft and the rookie draft, but over 90 per cent of them missed out on becoming undrafted free agents.