After employing a clear recruiting and retention strategy since 2018, the Gold Coast SUNS will now embark on the next phase of its list management with some calculated moves this Continental Tyres Trade Period.
Since moving on from experienced players at the end of 2018, Gold Coast has invested heavily in the draft with nine first-round selections in the last four years.
This move allowed the club to stabilise the list and stockpile elite talent with an eye on rising up the ladder.
Speaking to SUNS Media, General Manger of Player Talent and Strategy Craig Cameron says it is now time for the club to depart from this strategy and use its foundations to build into the future.
“We’re at that tension point where we need to look at our list and make some decisions on some players that we have and also whether we have the right pillars in place to take us forward,” Cameron said.
“We believe we do, we have good young pillars but we also have Touk Miller playing the best footy of his career, Dave Swallow is playing really good footy and so is Jarrod Witts as mature players.
“So we now go from a phase where we are collecting talent to now a phase where we are building a team that can win.”
A key component of this next phase includes a deliberate and targeted approach at acquiring new and experienced players.
“We now need to make sure that whoever we bring in fits us perfectly for what we need going forward.
“That will mean that potentially draft selections for us aren’t the same value as they were for the previous four years.
“We will need to find a way to potentially bring a mature player in either through trade or free agency, at a high level, that we think can round us out and help push us over the next hurdle.”
One of the levers all clubs will now be able to pull is the crafting of trades to ease salary cap pressures.
Cameron says the ability to execute these types of trades will help the club prepare for a rise up the AFL ladder.
“We’ll be really aggressive in this trade period to open up (salary cap) space as a pre-emptive strategy, so that once we start to play finals, we’ll be in a position to then bring in players of high quality to help us take a quantum leap from 10th, ninth, eighth to the top four,” Cameron said.
“If you can keep managing it properly, you can actually use salary cap space as a weapon so it becomes something you can go to the market with for a trade or a free agent and that’s where we are looking to get to.”
With Izak Rankine requesting a trade to Adelaide, Cameron said the club would be seeking “fair recompense” at the trade table, particularly at the front end of the 2022 NAB AFL Draft.
Cameron confirmed the club also had an interest in St Kilda rebounding defender Ben Long to shore up its defensive stocks in 2023.
The 2022 Continental Tyres Trade Period gets underway on Monday October 3 and runs until Wednesday October 12.