Season Preview: Gold Coast Suns reserves
Big things are expected from the Suns this season as their youngsters mature.
2013 could shape up to be a year of major improvement for the Gold Coast Suns Reserves, according to coach Shaun Hart.
With the majority of their list heading into their third AFL season, Hart said the side will are set to make far greater progress than in previous seasons.
“It’s been our best pre-season yet, by a long way,” he said.
“I believe we’ll start to really challenge sides this year.
“We’ve really started to see guys getting an understanding of a game plan and their role in every part of the game.”
After adjusting to the physical demands of senior football, Hart said the Gold Coasters were placing more of an emphasis on the psychological factors in AFL.
“They’ve really been coached physically in the last couple of years but now it’s about becoming mentally hard and being more resilient,” he said.
“As you educate players and they understand what to do under fatigue and pressure, players become far more consistent in ball use and defensively.”
The reserves side will benefit from the addition of draftee, Jack Martin, who has impressed in pre-season training and the NAB Cup.
Hart said Martin would be a major attraction for Suns fans this year.
“He’s a fantastic young player,” he said.
“He’s really going to give the competition something to watch.”
The NEAFL will be the only place that spectators will be able to catch a glimpse of 18 year-old Martin, who is ineligible to play in the AFL until 2014.
Hart also expects major improvement from 2011 Reserves player of the year, Jacob Gilbee and Tom Nicholls, on the fringes of senior footy.
Andrew Boston from Broadbeach will be a handy addition to the Suns in the NEAFL this season, if he can produce anywhere near the 2012 form that saw him land the NEAFL Northern Rising Star award.
Tasmanian young gun Jesse Lonergan has also showed his potential in the NAB Cup, but will potentially slot into the senior side early in the year.
The Suns have lost a bit of experience in the off-season, though, with former Saint Andrew McQualter, now playing for Southport, delisted.
With the club expecting a rapid improvement from their young list, Hart said he would be aiming to help those in the NEAFL to increase pressure on those in the senior spots.
“My main objective is to get as much out of every player and maintain a healthy environment,” he said.
“It’s definitely about developing and having stable combinations that consistently put real pressure on guys in the seniors.”
As part of making gains this season, Hart said stoppages would be a major focus of the coaching team this year.
“We are working on making sure we get first hands on footy and establish good structures on either side of stoppages,” he said.
The Suns reserves played their first practice match last weekend, against Aspley, and won 7.11.53 - 4.4.28.
They’ll get their first crack in the 2013 NEAFL competition proper on March 30, against Mt Gravatt at Metricon Stadium.
Gold Coast 2013 Ins