After a slew of short turnarounds between games, Gold Coast will head into Round 14 with the luxury of a nine-day break behind it when the team takes on North Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on Sunday.
While it’s a good opportunity for the players to get some much-needed rest, SUNS assistant coach Josh Francou said in the @realty Coaches Chat that it also allowed for a more thorough analysis of what needs to improve in the remaining four games this season.
“To have a nine-day break now, it’s a really good chance for the players to recover, rest the sore spots, the fatigue that you potentially build up over the course of that month and reset and go again,” Francou said.
“There’s a little bit more downtime and the coaches get a little bit more time to look at the opposition, take a bit of a breath and reset and go again.
“The week looks a little bit different to what they have been previously but as far as the preparation goes, it doesn’t really change as far as mentality and our training focusses.”
The SUNS had a poor game by anyone’s measure against Carlton last Friday.
But before that, the team had pushed 2019 premiers Richmond to the line and had a draw against Essendon, led largely by the core of young players who continue to impress this season.
Francou said that emergence of the next generation of Gold Coast stars was one of the major highlights of the season to date.
“When you have first and second-year players, the way you get that experience and confidence is actually playing games of footy,” he said.
“We’re in a situation, as a lot of sides are, where we‘ve got the opportunity to play those young guys and get the games into them.
“It’s been really rewarding seeing the improvement in particularly guys that we’ve drafted over the last couple of years.
“We’ve had four Rising Star nominations so that’s probably a testament to the program but also the quality of the individual that we’ve brought into the program so it’s really pleasing to see.”
One SUN who has strung together an ultra-impressive month of football is 2018 draftee Jack Lukosius.
The 20-year-old has twice been voted the Austworld Player of the Round and has ranked elite amongst the AFL this year in metres gained and rebound 50’s.
“He’s developing nicely, he’s a guy as everyone would have seen that does help us move the ball out of our back half,” Francou said.
“He hits kicks that I only dream about hitting so he is a beautiful disposal by foot.
“He’s one of those players that we can continually get games into.
“Whether it’s next year or the year after, when he’s reached his full potential he’s going to be a really important player for us.”
Sunday will be the team’s last opportunity to play in front of a home crowd at Metricon Stadium in 2020, and Francou said the players were desperate to bounce back with a good performance.
“We were really poor in the contest last week, I think we were -43 in differential between us and Carlton in the contested possessions which a lot of sides talk about,” he said.
“That’s an area that we continually focus on so we did let ourselves down in that phase of the game so that’s an area we’ve got to improve on.
“We’ll train it this week and it will be a big focus going into the game so if we can get that phase of our game right, we give ourselves a chance to get the four points.”