GOLD Coast continues to make inroads in the AFL Women’s competition, falling six points outside the top eight last season. Though the Suns were not too far away, their percentage of 88 still left a little to be desired and showed areas of improvement.
Looking across the Suns’ list, Gold Coast clearly has some incredible young talents, and while the Suns are yet to play in a final since their inaugural season where there were conferences, will be hoping to do so in Season 8. As a finals contender, the Suns will be watched closely to see if they make the jump into the top eight. They have recruited eight fresh faces and regain Alana Gee from injury, so have plenty to look forward to this year.
#1 Jasmyn Smith
#2 Lauren Bella
#3 Darcie Davies
#4 Claudia Whitfort
#5 Maddy Brancatisano
#6 Maddison Levi*
#7 Lauren Ahrens
#8 Charlie Rowbottom
#9 Clara Fitzpatrick
#10 Ella Maurer
#11 Teagan Levi*
#11 Niamh McLaughlin
#12 Tara Bohanna
#13 Lucy Single
#14 Cara McCrossan
#15 Wallis Randell
#16 Gabrielle Biedenweg-Webster
#17 Jamie Stanton
#18 Georgia Clayden
#19 Ashanti Bush
#20 Daisy D’Arcy
#21 Jordan Membrey
#22 Giselle Davies
#23 Kalinda Howarth
#24 Alana Gee
#25 Meara Girvan
#27 Jacqui Dupuy
#30 Bess Keaney
#32 Claire Ransom*
#33 Alison Drennan
#34 Tahlia Meyer
#38 Kaylee Kimber
#39 Vivien Saad
* inactive list
In: Maddy Brancatisano, Jordan Membrey, Ella Maurer, Clara Fitzpatrick, Niamh McLaughlin, Cara McCrossan, Meara Girvan, Darcie Davies, Alana Gee (inactive)
Out: Claire Ransom (inactive), Shannon Danckert, Annise Bradfield, Tori Groves-Little, Jade Pregelj, Ashlee Atkins, Krystal Scott, Courtney Jones, Ellie Hampson, Serene Watson
Round 1: vs. Carlton @ Ikon Park
Round 2: vs. West Coast @ Heritage Bank Stadium
Round 3: vs. Collingwood @ Victoria Park
Round 4: vs. Western Bulldogs @ Heritage Bank Stadium
Round 5: vs. Adelaide @ Wigan Oval
Round 6: vs. Richmond @ Ikon Park
Round 7: vs. Brisbane @ Heritage Bank Stadium
Round 8: vs. Port Adelaide @ Alberton Oval
Round 9: vs. GWS GIANTS @ Heritage Bank Stadium
Round 10: vs. Essendon @ Great Barrier Reef Arena
- Effectively welcome in two top 10 picks
- Homeground advantage (5-1-2 since start of Season 6)
- Young midfield that will only get better
- No shortage of talls
Not too many teams will be able to bring in two top 10 draft prospects in Season 8, but that is exactly the situation for Gold Coast as they welcome back Gee from injury, and also bring in Darcie Davies. The former was taken in the 2022 AFLW Draft, but missed all of Season 7, while Davies was taken as a Supplementary Draft pick to replace Claire Ransom – who was placed on the inactive list – and would have been a likely top 10 pick in this year’s draft.
Along with those young guns, the midfield that includes Charlie Rowbottom and Claudia Whitfort will be joined by former Roo Ella Maurer and ex-Tiger Maddy Brancatisano. With Alison Drennan the experienced onballer and Lauren Bella sharing the ruck with Davies, the Suns have a competitive group in the middle that is more than capable of winning plenty of clearance
Similarly, the depth of talls at the club is growing by teh year, with Tara Bohanna up forward and Vivien Saad down back both key players to provide the stability that the Suns need. Along with Giselle Davies who came along last season, and Jacqueline Dupuy as forward options, the Suns will have the right balance across the field.
If they can maintain their homeground advantage at Carrara – which since the start of Season 6 stands at five wins, one draw and two losses – then the Suns will always be a chance at finals. Gold Coast has only lost to Melbourne and Brisbane at its home deck last season, so have forged a strong bond there.
- How will the Suns cover the loss of Courtney Jones?
- Can they learn to win away from home? (2-1-16) vs an opponent in their home state)
The biggest loss over the off-season for the Suns was Courtney Jones heading back to Victoria to play with the Tigers. Jones shared the goalkicking in Season 7 with Bohanna booting eight goals, with Dupuy (seven) and Kalinda Howarth (six) the only others above two majors. Gold Coast will be looking to find more avenues to goal, particularly through midfielders hitting the scoreboard in Season 8.
The other knock on Gold Coast is its ability – or lack thereof – to travel. Since their inception, the Suns have only won two, and drawn once against an opponent in their home state. That draw came against Brisbane at Carrara, while the two wins were against West Coast and Sydney in Season 6 and 7 respectively with both those sides finishing last in those seasons.
BEST & FAIREST CONTENDER
Rowbottom progressed from an incredibly talented young midfielder in Season 6, to an out and out star in Season 7. The former number one draft pick quickly shot into a player opposition teams had to monitor due to her sheer power and clearance ability. If others can share the load and take opposition attention in Season 8, Rowbottom has the potential to rack up the votes.
Gee is a readymade talent who could be anything. A genuine top 10 talent, the midfielder has the explosive speed and natural skill and smarts that allows her to be a potent ball-user. She had no luck with injury last season, but now coming into her second season in the gold and red, expect her to make an immediate impact.
Gold Coast was flirting with making it into the top eight last season, and while the Suns started strong, did fall away. The heavy losses to Brisbane and Melbourne hurt, and the Suns will need to tidy up those performances in order to avoid their percentage taking a hit. Overall though, Gold Coast should be in contention to make finals, it will just be a case or whether or not the Suns can find a way to win on the road.