The Gold Coast SUNS made another major announcement on Wednesday, revealing Senior Coach Stuart Dew had extended his contract with the club for a further two years.
Dew is in his third season as SUNS coach and has already overseen significant change within the organisation.
The 40-year-old’s extension was all but locked in prior to the season beginning, but the decision was made to pause discussions after the COVID pandemic hit the nation.
Dew said it was pleasing to finally have the paperwork lodged and his future on the Gold Coast secured.
“It’s exciting, obviously over pre-season there was lots of discussion but we weren’t able to finalise it and we were really happy to park it given the situation in the whole league.
“We got together and just agreed let’s worry about it later.
“We knew that there was just some minor details which were always going to get sorted and we’ve had the time to get it done.
“I’m humbled and feel really privileged to be able to coach this club.”
Dew’s extension is a final building block in the club’s overall strategy to reset and create an inclusive environment and culture.
With over half the playing list recommitting to the club over the last two seasons, Dew believes the SUNS have the foundation to make a push up the ladder in the coming years.
“All the good footy clubs have stability and we’ve worked really hard over the last three years to have that stability on-field and obviously the last piece of the puzzle is a bit of off-field stuff as well,” he said.
“We think that I’m a piece of the puzzle and the players are obviously a really important piece and we’ve got a big commitment from the bulk of our playing list which is important.”
On the same day his new contract was announced, the AFL also made the decision to relocate Victorian-based teams to Queensland for what will likely be the remainder of the season.
Dew said it was a big coup for football on the Gold Coast and in Queensland.
“The sport is really growing and to have the spotlight on that region, we’re excited by that and we’re keen to be a part of it,” he said.
“I think we can manage, we can facilitate and be hospitable to the other teams in terms of facilities to make sure we keep the competition going.
“We all love the game and that’s important.”
Participation rates have exploded in Queensland in recent years, particularly in the female space, which Dew says the SUNS have played a major role in fostering.
“We’ve been working really hard to boost the game in Queensland both from a male and female point of view,” he said.
“It’s really strong and I think we can talk about it, but now with the teams being up there they’re going to get first look at how strong the game is and the interest of the game.
“It’s growing and it makes sense with the population.
“Having lived in Sydney as well, these northern markets are here to stay and they should be and we should be looking to maximise for sure.”
The SUNS’ two-week stay in New South Wales is coming to an end, with a final hurdle upcoming in the shape of the Round 7 match against Sydney at the SCG.
Having spent seven seasons at the Swans as an assistant coach, Dew knows their system better than most and is expecting a fierce challenge on the weekend.
“Having been there, they are a strong footy club,” he said.
“I don’t think they play dour football, I think they play competitive, finals-type football so that’s what we’re expecting.
“They’re certainly out there to kick goals but a key part of the game is stopping the opposition as well.
“Knowing how they coach and how they play, they’re out there to win the game so we’ve got to make sure that we’re in for a strong contest.”