Howdy folks, we’re still in the G’s of our Supercoach Scouting Report, today we’ll be taking a look at the ever improving Gold Coast Suns.
The Suns are only just beginning to burn bright, after winning only 3 games in each of their first two years in the competition, the Suns players have begun that transition from crawling to walking, winning 8 games in 2013 and are looking to gain their very first finals birth in 2014. Once again the Suns have one of the top rated rookies entering their side, as well as the Supercoach Lord and master in Gary Ablett.
The Suns have been very good to us Supercoachers since they’ve entered the league, so let’s see if they plan on continuing the trend, or if we’ll be weaning ourselves off our reliance on the Gold Coast Suns for the 2014 Supercoach season.
Gold Coast Suns 2014 Scouting Report
2013 Record: 8 wins, 14 losses
Jack Martin (17 Year Old GWS Mini-Draft)
Kade Kolodjashnij (Pick #5, National Draft)
Jack Leslie (Pick #20, National Draft)
Sean Lemmens (Pick #27, National Draft)
Louis Herbert (Pick #4, Rookie Draft)
Jarred Ellis (Pick #63, Rookie Draft)
Jacob Gillbee (Delisted)
Kyal Horsley (Delisted)
Liam Patrick (Delisted)
Maverick Weller (Delisted)
Joel Wilkinson (Delisted)
Jared Brennan (Retired)
2014 Team Preview
2014 Bye Round: 8
Final 4: Carlton Blues, Port Power, Essendon Bombers, West Coast Eagles
The Suns posted an extra 5 wins compared to their 2011 and 2012 finishes, and will need to be posting a similar improvement again in 2014 if they plan on being a finals contender next season. A fairly quiet off-season for the Suns, they have added the exciting Jack Martin (whom they obtained in the GWS Mini-draft for the 2012 #2 Pick Jonathan O’Rourke), people are expecting big things from this kid with him already the favourite for the Rising Star award in 2014. They’ve also drafted Kade Kolodjashnij with the #5 pick to add to their stockpile of young and talented players.
The Suns have a middle of the pack draw, getting to play three bottom-six teams twice (West Coast, St. Kilda and Western Bulldogs), they’ll also be playing the reigning Premiers Hawthorn twice as well as the usual two games against QLD opponents the Brisbane Lions. The Suns get to play 13 games in QLD, but this is offset by the brutal travel schedule they have when they’re playing away, being forced to make the trek from QLD to WA twice, with both Fremantle and West Coast having home games against the GCS. They’ll also have to travel to Adelaide in Rd 11 for a game against the Crows, as well as flying to Launceston for their Rd 15 clash against the Hawks.
The final 4 is a reasonable proposition for the Suns, with all 4 being winnable, and no terrible matchups potentially on the cards for them there.
2014 Projected Wins/Losses: 11 wins, 11 losses
2012 SC Average: N/A
2013 SC Average: N/A
Starting Price: 222.3K
The Barron has thrown a bit of a curveball first up, we’ve gone with the youngster Jack Martin as our lock for the Gold Coast Suns, the first time I’ve put someone else besides the Little Master Gary Ablett in this slot. Just forget about that for the moment and lock Jack Martin into your midfield right now!
Some may be put off by his 222.3K price tag, forget that too, this kid is quality and you’ll be doing yourself a complete disservice if you decide to cheap out. Doesn’t matter how, find the extra 100K and instead of picking a 120K rookie that may not play, grab Martin instead. Martin will be 19 going into the 2014 season and had a terrific year in the NEAFL; he only played 12 games, but averaged 20 disposals, 13 contested possessions, 6 clearances, 3 inside 50′s a game and 6 tackles per game with a disposal efficiency of 71.4%. In his very first NEAFL match ever, he grabbed 30 disposals and posted an outrageous 196 Supercoach points. I know most people consider the NEAFL standards to be slightly lower to those of the SANFL, WAFL and VFL, but that sort of dominance cannot be ignored.
GC Suns coach has noted that Martin will have a slightly easier time in his first AFL year than Jaeger O’Meara did due to the Suns midfield being a year older, as well as O’Meara himself being on the field. If you liked the scores O’Meara put up in 2013, then you should be grabbing Martin, someone I think will be capable of matching the same sort of scores in 2014.
2014 SC Projection: 80-88
2012 SC Average: 138.4
2013 SC Average: 128.4
Starting Price: 695K
One of the biggest things we’ve noticed now that people are putting together their Supercoach sides is the number of teams that are deciding to skip on picking Ablett in their initial sides. And there are plenty of valid reasons for this, his Round 8 bye is a killer and matches up with a number of the other top midfielders and also, because of the increased rookie prices this year, his initial starting price of 695K makes him a difficult player to fit in under the salary cap without skimping elsewhere around the ground. Ablett is still one of the greatest players in the history of the AFL though and so shouldn’t be written off just because of his price and bye round. There will still be plenty of Supercoachers that go into 2014 with Ablett in their initial sides (and who can blame them!), and those who don’t have him will most likely be gagging to get him as a post bye round upgrade.
2013 was another dominate year for Ablett, seeing him win the Brownlow Medal for the 2nd time in his career. He was also ranked top 10 in numerous categories, ranking 1st in Disposals Per Game, 6th in Total Disposals, 5th in Handballs Per Game, 7th in Total Handballs, 9th in Kicks Per Game, 18th in Total Kicks, 2nd in Contested Possessions Per Game, 3rd in Total Contested Possessions, 10th in Clearances Per Game, 12th in Total Clearances, 4th in Effective Disposals Per Game, 10th in Total Effective Disposals, 3rd in Inside 50s Per Game, 6th in Total Inside 50s, and most importantly for us 1st in Supercoach Score Per Game and 4th in Total Supercoach Score.
There has been talk of Ablett spending more time up forward next year in order to let the Suns youngsters such as Bennell, O’Meara, Presita, Swallow and Martin (who are all 21 or younger, how scary is that!) carry more of the midfield load. I can imagine this having a slight impact on Ablett’s disposal average and could envision a scenario where it falls below the 30 per game mark for the first time since 2008, Ablett is still enough of a freak that he’s capable of kicking 4-5 goals a game as a forward anyway, and should still be averaging 28-30 possessions a game, so it shouldn’t cause a massive dent in his scores, and as we’ve seen with Matthew Pavlich, it sometimes can even see a player post an increase in their average scores.
2014 SC Projection: 120-126
2012 SC Average: 79.0
2013 SC Average: 97.5
Starting Price: 525.9K
The #9 pick in the 2010 draft, Prestia is one of the Suns young midfielders looking to make a jump into Fantasy Football stardom for us in 2014. Prestia goes into 2014 finding himself sitting in that sweet Higgo “Breakout Zone” territory; he’s just turned 21 in October and has played 51 games over his first 3 years in the AFL.
He showed last year that his at his best, he can be an extremely damaging player, you only need to go back and watch the Suns Rd 14 game against Adelaide where they faced a Crows side that just couldn’t stop him and could only stand there and watch as he racked up a massive 42 possessions, to go along with 7 marks, 2 goals, 4 tackles, 9 I50’s and a huge SC score of 151. Infact that Rd 7-14 period was where he showed the best form of his career and was only a glimpse of what we’ll hope he can become in 2014, scoring 6 100+ scores out of 7 games and produced a SC average of 112.71.
Was a consistent ball winner for the Suns, only twice recording less than 20 possessions, he was also equal 1st for effective long kicks at the club and was ranked 9th in most metres gained out of all midfielders in the AFL. Like the rest of the Suns midfielders, they have the advantage of having Gary Ablett in the side, meaning they’re very unlikely to receive a tag at all, freeing them up to rack up plenty of possessions. Prestia is going to take another step forward next year, so don’t hesitate in picking him up.
2014 SC Projection: 102-108
2012 SC Average: 97.5
2013 SC Average: 96.5
Starting Price: 520.7K
One we predicted to make the leap in 2013, it was a disappointing year for Bennell, who actually saw his overall average decrease by a point for the year. He did have his reasons though; suffering hamstring issues throughout the season which caused him to miss 7 games. He had an inconsistent start to the year, averaging 84.3 by Round 8, even though he had two scores of 119 and 121. It was when he returned in Round 15 he began to show us some real form, averaging 104.8 over his last 9 games and he had a terrific last 5 rounds, scoring 5 tons and averaging 122.8 and ranked 6th in the AFL for SC points during that 5 round period.
This is the sort of form we’ll be looking for Bennell to produce over the entire year, he won’t be hitting those 122 highs across the entire season, but his 2nd half of the year should be a real indicator of what he’s capable of if he can go into 2014 completely healthy.
2014 SC Projection: 100-106
2012 SC Average: 73.5
2013 SC Average: 90.5
Starting Price: 487.9K
Charlie Dixon bolted out of the gates in 2013, scoring 4 tons in his first 5 games for a Supercoach average of 115. Many people were jumping about the D-Train at this stage, but unfortunately an ankle injury hit and he only played 8 more games for the year, and saw his average fall to a 2012 esque 75.12 for the rest of the year.
Was used as a ruckman at times, especially in the earlier rounds of the season, the emergence of Tom Niccolls means he may stay up forward fulltime, but he still may provide some ruck relief, last year he averaged 10.4 hitouts per game, while matching a player of the calibre of Dean Cox for clearances in the centre square. Also had a high contested possession rate of 8.9, this equalled 69% of his total disposals, which was 1st at the GC Suns for 2013.
At his price he’ll make a fantastic selection in either the ruck or as a forward, and he should definitely improve on his 2013 average, as long as he starts 2014 healthy and stays injury free.
2014 SC Projection: 95-101
2012 SC Average: 44.0
2013 SC Average: 91.6
Starting Price: 494.2K
Tom Nicholls only played 8 games in 2013, but established himself as the likely #1 ruck for the Suns going into 2014. Suffered knee bursitis throughout the year, it eventually forced him to be subbed out at halftime during the Suns match with Carlton in Round 18 and prematurely ended his season after that.
Nicholls averaged 91.6 for the year, if we remove the game he was subbed out due to injury, which saw him score 36, it raises his average up to 99.5. The games he played between Rounds 10 and 17 saw him ranked 4th for points scored by a ruckman, as well as being 1st in both disposals as well as equal 3rd in clearances by rucks. Like Dixon, the majority of his possessions are of the contested variety, averaging 65.5% of his 13 disposals as contested.
Has been heavily compared to Nic Naitanui, if you put Nic Nats 2012 VS Nicholls 2013 side by side they match up almost equally, with the only differences being Nic Nat averaged more goals (1.1 to Niccolls 0.2) and Niccolls averaged more tackles (Niccolls wins 5 to 3.2). If you’re feeling weary of picking Nic Nat in your starting side next year due to injury concerns, then Nicholls is looking like an excellent alternative to consider for your side.
2014 SC Projection: 94-101
2012 SC Average: N/A
2013 SC Average: 90.1
Starting Price: 486.2K
The 2013 Rising Star winner, Jaeger O’Meara may be the best player young players we’ve seen in some time. Considering the Suns only gave up Pick #4 in the 2011 National Draft (who GWS ended up selecting Will Hoskin-Elliott with), this may go down as one of the smartest trades ever made.
Had a terrific year, averaging 21.6 possessions, 4.4 marks, 4 clearances, 5 tackles, 3 inside 50’s and booted 16 goals for the year. Also stood up against the good sides, something not all rookies are capable of, ranking 2nd for the Suns (behind Ablett of course) for points in games against the top 8 sides. Like Prestia, Bennell and Swallow, he has the advantage of Ablett being his teammate, meaning he’s less likely to be tagged, so he shouldn’t have any issues maintaining at worst an average of 90 and should hopefully eclipse it in 2014.
This kid is going to be special and another year of pre-season fitness will do him wonders. Many people worry about second year blues, but this kid is just so good that I can’t see that happening to O’Meara in 2014.
2014 SC Projection: 90-98
2012 SC Average: 67.3
2013 SC Average: 88.6
Starting Price: 477.7K
McKenzie had a terrific 2013 being used as a run and carry player in defence for the Suns, recording career highs in nearly every statistical category. Averaged 19.2 disposals, 5.5 marks, 2.9 tackles, 1.6 intercept marks and 5.2 rebound 50’s, it was here he was one of the AFL’s best, ranking 4th in Rebound 50’s Per Game and 5th for Total Rebound 50’s. One of his biggest improvements has come from his kicking efficiency, which was at an average 59.8% off 11.6 kicks in 2011; he’s improved that kicking efficiency number to 74% from 14.1 kicks and sent his overall disposal efficiency from 63.2% in 2011 up to 77.5% in 2013.
While he does play as a defender, he does have his defensive issues, being beaten 40% of the time in one on one contests, which ranked second to last in the top 50 players to defend a contest. He makes up for that by being quite good at intercepting possessions and intercept marks.
He started to sputter out a bit towards the end of 2013, recording a Supercoach average of 67.6 over his last 5 games, compared to the 96.6 average he posted in his previous 15 games. Probably wasn’t owned by many teams at the beginning of 2013, he was certainly in quite a few by the end of the year however. Will potentially start to cop some forward tag attention next year and with the addition of some top line talent to the defensive position like Walker, Mitchell and McVeigh, he’s probably not worth as much to us as he was last year when premium defenders were at a minimum, but he’ll still be a decent starting option for your back 6. I’ve previously recommended Ricky Henderson, who’s similarly priced earlier during my scouting reports, if you’re unsure about him; McKenzie makes a viable alternate selection for your side.
2014 SC Projection: 90-98
2012 SC Average: 78.2
2013 SC Average: 79.6
Starting Price: 429.4K
2013 was a disappointing year for Swallow, seeing him completely stall as a player and recording almost identical stats to his first two years in the league. Started the year in the midfield, he started to look like he may breakout in 2013, averaging 19.3 disposals, 5.3 tackles, 5 clearances, 2.6 Inside 50’s and a Supercoach average of 88. Starting from Round 4 he was moved down back and then averaged 77.9 for the remainder of the year.
He’s firmly planted in Higgo’s “Breakout Zone”, so the key to him really becoming a good Supercoach selection is getting more run through the midfield, rather than hanging around the back 50 for the Suns. Keep your eyes on him, but if it looks like he’ll be toiling away in the backlines again in 2014, then I’d be moving him down into the skip category for next year.
2014 SC Projection: 85-92
2012 SC Average: N/A
2013 SC Average: N/A
Starting Price: 197.3K
The #5 pick from this years National Draft, Kolodjashnij will be looking to slot in across half-back for the Suns next year (potentially freeing up David Swallow?). Has been compared to Grant Birchall, he had terrific numbers during the U18 Championships, recording averages of 27.4 disposals, 6.4 marks, 3.6 rebound 50’s, 1.8 intercept marks and 2.8 tackles.
Has an elevated rookie price of 197.3K, there aren’t many other cheaper rookie options down back that stand out at this stage and have the same scoring potential, so he may be a fixture in most teams next season.
2012 SC Average: 61.8
2013 SC Average: 36.5
Starting Price: 196.6K
Nathan Bock has been a very good player during his career, unfortunately for the Suns; it hasn’t really been while he’s been playing AFL football up at the Gold Coast. Bock has only managed 27 games in 3 years at the Suns, playing 21 in his first year, and then only managing to play 6 in the past 2 years. Bock has struggled with injuries since 2012, one specific injury that has kept him off the park for the best part of two years, a leg break he suffered in Round 6 against Fremantle in May of 2012. He finally made his AFL return last year in Round 19 against West Coast, but could only manage a game and a half before the leg issues flared up again, this time a metal rod that was inserted into his leg causing the issues for Bock.
So the first step towards picking Bock in 2014 if he’s healthy or not. Once we clear that hurdle we’ll have a better understanding of where Bock is going into 2014. The beauty of Bock is he’s capable of playing forward or back, so it shouldn’t be hard for the Suns to find a spot for him up forward, especially with their best goal kicker Campbell Brown no longer on the team. Bock played 7 games in the NEAFL in 2013 before making his AFL return where he kicked 19.4, so he’ll be a solid target for the Suns, a team that really does need someone to step up as a consistent target in the forward 50 and we know he’s got the kicking skills to convert when given the chance.
If Bock gets through the pre-season unscathed and is moving around without any issues, then don’t hesitate to grab him in your side. I have heard he’s looking in top shape at the moment, but we will have to wait and see on how his leg goes once he’s out there playing footy.
2014 SC Projection: 75-82
2012 SC Average: 77.5
2013 SC Average: 83.4
Starting Price: 449.7K
Harbrow probably flew under the radar a bit for many SCers, but he had a solid year in 2013, ranking 4th at the Gold Coast for disposals per game at 21.81. Another midfielder who plays in defence in Supercoach, Harbrow won 72% of his disposals in the midfield last year, a positive sign for a selection in defence since it means if the ball isn’t coming into the back 50, he’ll still score well for us in Supercoach since he’s winning the pill in the middle of the ground the majority of the time.
Many people will look elsewhere in 2014 due to Harbrow not having much upside to his scores, but if you want a solid pick who’s not going to be a boom-or-bust type proposition, then you could do worse than Harbrow in 2014. He’ll be a solid scorer most weeks, one who should maintain his price until you get a chance to upgrade him to a premium defender.
2014 SC Projection: 80-86
2012 SC Average: 70.1
2013 SC Average: 76.8
Starting Price: 414K
Another ACL victim of 2013, Smith was starting to show a bit of improvement on his SC scores, averaging 83.85 between rounds 1-7. Recorded an impressive 140 in Round 7, but also recorded an ugly 35 in Round 2. Has only ever been an average ruckman during his time with the Suns, he did record a career high 19.4 hitouts per game, but recorded a career low 22.1% on hitouts to advantage. He was a bit of an opposite player to Niccolls, with Niccolls being the much better player at recording clearances and tackles, but Smith recorded a much higher scoreboard impact averaging a goal a game.
And being a goal scorer might be where Smith finds his future role at the Suns. Smith wrecking his knee might have been the best thing to happen to Niccolls since he came into the side soon after and looks like he’ll have the #1 ruck spot on lockdown for 2014, so Smith may find himself parked up forward when he returns and only spending backup minutes in the ruck contests.
Anyway, there are plenty of cheap options in the rucks for 2014 and ones we know will be ready to go for the start of the year, unlike Smith who is still an unknown right now. Skip him for 2014 at this stage.
2014 SC Projection: 70-78
2012 SC Average: 82.6
2013 SC Average: 72
Starting Price: 338.4K
BURNMAN! STAY AWAY!
Greg “Bloody” Broughton has been one of the most frustrating players in Supercoach, while admittedly it hasn’t always been his fault; he is just not one to be relied upon in Supercoach any longer. Spent his first 4 years at Fremantle which saw his numbers go from averaging 98.7 in his first year, all the way down to 82.6 as he saw his role chopped and changed and often spending time as a forward tagger instead of playing across half back or in the middle where he seemed to rack up the points when given the opportunity to play in those parts of the ground (The Barron almost charged the coaching box at Etihad one game when Lyon put Broughton in the middle for 5 minutes, where he racked up 5-6 quick possessions and then Ross the Toss saw fit to sub him off straight after. Ruined my day, it did).
So many Supercoachers rejoiced when he found himself traded to the Suns, expecting that his scores would go back up into the high 90’s, but Broughton did the one thing nobody expected. He actually scored worse. Broughton recorded a career low in disposals; his average disposals per game fell to 17.5. He did record a career high in kicking efficiency, clocking in at 77.9%, an improvement on the 65.9% he recorded in 2012, this was mostly due to Broughton playing “safe” while in defence, with 24% of his kicks recorded as being lateral, or going backwards, which also meant he recorded the lowest metres gained out of all defenders in the AFL who averaged at 17 or more disposals per game. Cheap, short kicks don’t feed the Supercoach bulldog, kids.
I don’t see much changing for Broughton in 2014 and I’m sure there will be a few that will be extremely tempted by his current starting price and his previous scoring averages, but they don’t call him the Burnman for nothing.
2014 SC Projection: 70-78
2012 SC Average: 67.1
2013 SC Average: 74.7
Starting Price: 403.1K
Rischitelli recorded a slight improvement on his disappointing 2012 campaign, managing to raise his average by 7 points, although his 74.7 average was still well down from his first year in the Suns colours where he recorded a career high average of 95.7.
The Suns have already started talking up Rischitelli during the pre-season, nothing that he is over the ankle, hamstring and elbow injuries that he’s suffered over the past 2 years and will be fully fit heading into 2014, with Suns coach Guy McKenna noting
“To get him back in our side is a big tick. It’s like an in-house trade. We haven’t had an experienced hard-bodied player and midfielder, which is important.”
So he may be back to full fitness for the first time since 2011, but the difference is in 2011 it was him, Ablett and a bunch of kids in their first year of their AFL career. Now those kids like Prestia, Swallow, and Bennell have a few more years of development into them as AFL footballers, not to mention the additions of O’Meara and now Jack Martin to the mix, and I think they’ll be the ones doing the heavy lifting for the Suns midfield next year.
That’s not to say Rischitelli can’t post an improvement on his 2013 averages, but I don’t think he’ll be back to his 2011 highs. Was used as a tagger at times last year, which is a role he could definitely continue to be put in for 2014, which will restrict his scores a fair deal. It’s the norm for coaches to talk up players during the pre-season, so you can’t believe everything that’s said to the media. His price does look good on paper, but there’s a fair few other players for around his price range, so there’s plenty of other options for us to pick from next year.
2014 SC Projection: 74-80
Quick list of lower ranked players to keep your eyes on during pre-season
Brandon Matera -FWD – 302.9K
Andrew Boston – MID– 208.K
Luke Russell – DEF – 316.4K
Well, that’s how The Barron see’s the Gold Coast Suns in 2014; they’ll be an interesting team for sure with plenty of intruding players to pick from. How do you reckon the Suns will go in Supercoach for 2014? Stick a comment below or hit us up on the Twitter machine @BarronVonCrow.