Newly appointed SUNS General Manager of Football Performance Wayne Campbell knows what a successful culture looks like.
He’s experienced it first-hand in a similar role at the GWS Giants for four seasons, which saw the Giants play finals in every year he was at the club, culminating in a maiden Grand Final appearance in 2019.
After a two-year hiatus which saw Campbell work as Director of Football at Sydney University, the 48-year-old is now back in club-land and wants to see the SUNS reach the same level of success.
But a successful culture starts with the staff, and Campbell said his number one priority when he lands on the Gold Coast is to start getting to know the people at the SUNS.
“The staff are the most important and from what I’ve heard there’s some really good people at the SUNS,” Campbell told SUNS Media.
“I think the foundations have been laid really well and I come in at a really good time to come in with a fresh set of eyes with a different set of experiences but to get to know the people and the keys of the department.
“I’ve already spoken to Stuey (Dew) a couple of times and know Craig Cameron from Richmond when he was the GM of footy there and I was a staff member and then we worked together at the Giants.
“I have a good relationship with Craig and a good relationship with Mark (Evans) and getting to know Stuey at the same time so I’m excited by the people that the SUNS have got.”
Campbell comes to the SUNS with a decorated off-field career in the football industry.
After playing 297 AFL games in a 15-year career with Richmond, Campbell then transitioned into coaching roles with the Tigers and the Western Bulldogs which he says has given him a great understanding of the demands of those roles.
Those experiences led him into football administration, where he has also worked as the Head of Umpiring at the AFL prior to his time at the Giants and Sydney University.
He’s seen a lot of football programs through his vast experience, and is optimistic about the direction of the SUNS after observing from afar.
“I’m really excited about the role,” Campbell said.
“I think there’s a really good blend of age (in the playing group), we’re still quite young obviously but there’s some really good talent in the midfield and some good talls and smalls at either end.
“It’s a gradual progression that’s not linear and it’s not to be taken for granted but certainly the club has done a really good job of getting a good list of players.
“So that’s a start but then it’s our job and responsibility as the off-field staff to provide all the resources for the players to be as good as they can be.”
Campbell comes in as part of a three-person football leadership team alongside Dew and Cameron.
He understands his responsibility in driving the performance and operations of the football department and is bullish that will translate onto the field.
“It’s certainly belief that what you see on the field is a reflection of off-field,” Campbell said.
“It’s our job to select the players and develop the players and give them both their footy IQ and also get them fit and healthy.
“Over a period of time it’s our responsibility to ensure that we win games of footy.
“Hopefully I bring an element of leadership and an understanding and appreciation of how hard footy is both to play and to be involved in, to coach and to get them fit from the medical side of things as well.
“I think the platform’s been laid and we’re ready to win some games of footy.”
Currently down in Sydney, Campbell will work through plans to relocate to the Gold Coast in the coming weeks, with an aim to be in at the club prior to the commencement of pre-season training.