The Suns are ready to take a big leap in 2024. (Image: Daniel Cohen)

With a new coach and a list primed to play in September, will the Gold Coast Suns finally make their maiden finals appearance in 2024?

2023 Overview

Coming off the back of 2022 where they won 10 games and finished 12th (the highest the club finished in Stuart Dew’s tenure), 2023 was a disappointing season for the Suns after going into the year with expectations to make the finals.

Unfortunately for them, they fell behind the eight-ball from the beginning of the season, winning only one from their first five games.

They were able to rebound mid-season with back-to-back wins in Darwin heading into the bye, but the writing was on the wall as the club parted ways with Stuart Dew after Round 17. Steven King stepped in as Dew’s caretaker for the remainder of the 2023 season, but they could only manage a 15th placed finish.

Off-Season Changes

Ins: Sam Clohesy (Rookie Draft/Werribee), Will Graham (National Draft – Pick 26/Palm Beach Currumbin), Jack Mahoney (Rookie Draft/North Melbourne), Ethan Read (National Draft – Pick 9/Palm Beach Currumbin), Jake Rogers (National Draft – Pick 14/Broadbeach), Will Rowlands (Rookie Draft/Norwood), Jed Walter (National Draft – Pick 3 /Palm Beach Currumbin)

Outs: Jed Anderson, Brodie Mclaughlin, Jeremy Sharp, Jake Stein (Delisted), Connor Blakely, Charlie Constable (Retired), Chris Burgess (Traded – Adelaide), Mabior Chol (Traded – Hawthorn), Elijah Hollands (Traded – Carlton)

No players acquired through trades for Gold Coast in 2024, however they have picked up another very solid draft class. The likes of Jed Walter, Ethan Read, and Jake Rogers will be important parts of their future and it will be exciting to watch them develop over the coming years.

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Opening Round: Richmond (Home)

Round 1: Adelaide (Home)

Round 2: Western Bulldogs (Away)

Round 3: Bye

Round 4: GWS Giants (Gather Round)

Round 5: Hawthorn (Home)

Round 6: Sydney (Away)

Round 7: West Coast (Home)

Round 8: Brisbane (Away)

Round 9: North Melbourne (Home)

Round 10: Geelong (Home)

Round 11: Carlton (Away)

Round 12: Essendon (Home)

Round 13: St Kilda (Away)

Round 14: Bye

Round 15: Fremantle (Away)

Round 16: Collingwood (Home)

Round 17: North Melbourne (Away)

Round 18: Port Adelaide (Home)

Round 19: GWS Giants (Away)

Round 20: Brisbane (Home)

Round 21: West Coast (Away)

Round 22: Essendon (Away)

Round 23: Melbourne (Home)

Round 24: Richmond (Away)

Looking at 2024

The points to look for in 2024 will be how quickly the Suns learn and adapt to Damien Hardwick’s system and style of play, and ultimately, is the side ready to take the next step and crack the top eight and make their maiden finals appearance.

The groundwork of a star-studded midfield is there, but to compete with the top teams it will be the group under a team’s best midfield that Hardwick needs to establish. Touk Miller, David Swallow, Noah Anderson, and Matt Rowell have done their job inside the Suns’ engine room in the past, while Sam Flanders and Bailey Humphrey popped up at points last season. Whether they can all carry form into 2024 is yet to be seen.

Getting the best out of Ben King consistently will be another point of emphasis on Hardwick’s priority list. The 202cm key forward enjoyed a solid campaign last year after returning from an ACL injury, kicking 40 goals from 20 games. He started the year strong before fading at the end of the season but will be important for the Suns once again.

Hardwick has had such great success with key forwards. Jack Riewoldt and Tom Lynch flourished under his reign at Richmond, so Gold Coast fans will certainly want to see him replicate that brilliance with King at the Suns.

Prediction: 8th

If you look at the list Damien Hardwick has at his disposal, you will see that the Suns are more than ready to make a legitimate run at September action.

With the age profile of their best players entering their prime, combined with a relatively soft fixture, this could very well be the year that the Gold Coast play finals for the first time. At the very least, they will be a much improved outfit and it will be exciting to see how they develop in 2024 and beyond.

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