From pushover to powerhouse

AFL, SANFL, Sport — By on March 19, 2013 8:53 PM

By MAX BURFORD

The sun is rising on another AFL season, but for one club the heat has already been on for months.

After two years of cellar-dwelling, the Gold Coast Suns have been putting in big strides throughout the off-season to rectify their history of poor showings.

Emerging young forward Sam Day says the light at the end of the tunnel is growing by the day.

“This pre-season we have spent a lot of time improving our ability to focus mentally for entire games.

“If we can do that each week when the season rolls around, then we will go a long way to getting plenty more wins on the board,” he said.

‘Wins’ are just what this struggling new team needs in its third year as an AFL club.

At just 20 years old, Day is one of 26 Suns who had not yet reached their 21st birthday at the start of the year.

A list with such a huge amount of youth takes time to grow, but after winning only six games over their first two years in the AFL, the players can’t help but be unsatisfied with their results.

“Last year was a bit of a shock, I think we came out of pre-season a bit ahead of ourselves mentally and we got touched up in the first half of the season as a result,” Day said.

“We can’t really focus on getting a certain number of wins in-house, we just focus on being consistently competitive.

“We got better throughout 2012 and have shown positive signs in our NAB Cup games so far this year, but we have to stop lapsing briefly and having teams get away from us.”

The mantra of consistency for four quarters has been preached by many at the club, with Coach Guy McKenna saying earlier in that year that the club was “now entering the mode of being able to compete consistently”.

Performing at a constant intensity has been a challenge for the youthful team in their infancy, and by focussing on this issue throughout the off-season the club hopes to become a contender in the big league.

The wealth of young talent has not yet resulted in victories for the Suns, but a strong off-season recruiting drive has netted some prized mature players to help kick-start a previously inexperienced backline.

“Greg Broughton and Tom Murphy will be really good for us this year, having the experience and knowledge to bring a more collected approach down back which will definitely help out the younger guys as well,” said Day.

“Couple those two with the new draft pick kids who are readymade AFL footballers like Jesse Lonergan and Jaeger O’Meara, and the team is getting stronger for sure.”

This strength should bring some stability to the team and bolster their chances of becoming a competitive AFL team, giving the players and fans alike something to be excited about.

As an added motivation for success, the club has recently launched its new 20-ONE-3 campaign.

The goal is to reach 20,000 members and win one premiership within the next three years – a mammoth goal that the team believes they can reach.

“It brings a bit of external pressure onto the playing group but we know we will start winning some games when we play the good footy that we all know we can play.

“Hopefully we will start to play some finals together soon and with our good young group we will no doubt learn to play better as a team and go a long way to achieving those club goals of bringing a premiership flag to the Gold Coast,” Day said.

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