Cam-did choices: Suns make tough calls in search for improvement

AN 18-month overhaul of sorts has the Gold Coast Suns primed to push for finals in 2023. The Queensland club finished ninth last season and has made some terrific additions to the squad. Needless to say, there have also been omissions.

A side which entered AFL Women’s in 2020, Gold Coast found itself on the other side of the expansion coin upon the addition of Essendon, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, and Sydney. Coach Cameron Joyce says the list turnover has yielded somewhat of an “adjustment” for his troops.

“Through expansion of the four new teams and seeing a few players go, I think it was probably the first time that the girls had to go through that,” he said. “Another third of our list has changed over but they’ve brought a degree of freshness, which is good.

“They’ve added a competition for spots and the quality of people who have come in have added to the professionalism of the place, which is something that we’re striving to keep progressing – being that high performance environment at an elite level.”

Having made finals in year one, but not yet under Joyce’s mentorship, the Suns are seeking improvement above all else. Beating the top sides has proven their greatest challenge and Joyce admits there is no “silver bullet” to force the next step amid a field of uncontrollable factors.

What Gold Coast can control is its standards. New personnel like Maddy Brancatisano, Jordan Membrey, and Irishwoman Niamh McLaughlin have lifted them, along with the rejigged leadership group headed by captain Tara Bohanna.

“The work of Tara Bohanna and Jacqui Dupuy, Bess Keaney, Claudia Whitfort, those sort of players have really led the way to be able to increase professionalism and increase our intensity at training, which I think has filtered through to others,” Joyce said.

“The biggest thing for us is we just want to make sure we keep evolving and improving, both individually and collectively. If it means we play finals off the back of that, great.

“Sometimes you can’t control what other teams are doing in and around you but we’ve just got to keep focussing on improving the individual and making sure we can play better footy as a team. If we can do that, we hope the results take care of themselves in that sense.”

For the Suns, AFLW season eight will be about both improving and getting what they deserve. Joyce admitted his side arguably did not “deserve” top make finals last year having fallen short of the “quality teams”, but could do so on the back of continued growth.

“We really want to focus on providing the best program we can to support the girls,” he said. “We obviously want to keep improving our game style and how we can provide one that can compete (with) and beat the best teams.”

On the back of a relatively healthy preseason which has featured a focus on improvement areas like outside run, the Suns will look forward to their 2023 season opener against Carlton on September 2 at IKON Park. Their first home game is against West Coast the following week.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments