Winning the fix for Suns' AFL talent drain

Shayne Hope
Suns co-captain David Swallow says winning more matches is key to Gold Coast retaining young stars

No AFL club has suffered a talent drain like the one that has flowed steadily out of the door at Gold Coast over the past few seasons.

The solution to stemming the tide has so far eluded club officials, who will almost certainly face further raids on high-end draft selections like Izak Rankine, Jack Lukosius, Ben King, Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in the not-too-distant future.

But Suns co-captain David Swallow believes the answer is simple.

"If we're winning games then I dare say that most of them will stay," Swallow said.

"There are obviously other challenges but I guess the quicker we can start to win games and build belief - getting them set up on the Coast and getting roots down on the Coast is important as well - but ultimately, if we're winning games then blokes will want to stick around."

That's easier said than done for a club that has won no more than six games in any of the past five seasons and finished bottom of the ladder last year.

But Swallow hopes the emerging group of young Suns, coupled with some more experienced heads, will steer a charge up the ladder under Stuart Dew.

Rankine, Lukosius and King - Gold Coast's trio of top-10 draft picks from 2018 - all inked early contract extensions last year to commit themselves to the club until 2022.

"It is really exciting and we might have three or four debut in round one," Swallow said, with 2019 top picks Rowell and Anderson certain starters for the season-opener against Port Adelaide on March 21.

"It means there might be a little bit of inexperience as well, but hopefully guys like Hugh Greenwood from Adelaide and Brandon Ellis from Richmond will be able to counter that.

"But it's exciting for the young guys to get an opportunity and see what they can produce at AFL level."

Dual premiership player Dew enters his third season as Gold Coast coach likely to earn a contract extension in the near future.

He will attempt to implement an attacking brand of football that Swallow believes will excite Suns fans in 2020 and beyond.

"We've got a lot of players who play with really high energy and bring tackling pressure," Swallow said.

"When they're up and about and we're taking the game on we can be a really exciting team to watch.

"I'm keen to see how we evolve as a team and continue to build our identity."