IT’S been said for years. The Gold Coast spine has the potential to be as good as any in the competition. It’s just who’s in the guts that could be of most concern for the Suns.
Justin Leppitsch was recently spruiking his Lions would possess the league’s best goal-to-goal line in a few years with Harris Andrews and Darcy Gardiner down back and Eric Hipwood and Josh Schache up forward.
But, with Steven May and Rory Thompson holding down the two key defensive posts and spearhead Tom Lynch now being joined by Peter Wright – an upgrade on Charlie Dixon – in attack they certainly have the edge in that area for the foreseeable future.
Playing no small role in a big win over the previously in-form St Kilda at Carrara on Saturday, it was only the fourth time they’ve all played together, due to form, injury or suspension.
‘Two-metre Peter’, as Wright is affectionately known, was touted as a potential No.1 draft pick throughout the 2014 season. He eventually slipped down to No.8, much to the benefit of the Suns.
With Dixon crossing to Port Adelaide, Wright’s arrival has been timely to say the least.
During a 10-mark, three-goal game against the Saints, Wright again showed his enormous potential, during what was his first win with the Suns.
With Lynch, who took 10 marks to half-time before finishing with a club-record 14, they make a formidable pair in attack, with Sam Day as the support.
Not to be outdone, May and Thompson hauled in 11 marks each in the back half for a grand total of 46 between the key quartet as the Suns broke a 10-match losing streak.
The hosts, of course, had reason to celebrate on two fronts, with Jaeger O’Meara making his long-awaited return in the NEAFL after overcoming a ruptured patella tendon that has kept him sidelined since 2014.
He hasn’t played with Wright yet; hasn’t been coached on matchday by Rodney Eade.
That time will come – maybe in a few weeks – after the midfield jet has been eased back. He played a half on Saturday and gathered 15 touches.
But, how long Eade will have him at his disposal remains to be seen – the uncertain futures of O’Meara, Dion Prestia and to a lesser extent David Swallow tempering the promise the Suns are providing again.
With his contract up at the end of this year, O’Meara has been adamant he won’t discuss re-signing to remain a Gold Coast player until “I’m not concerned about my knee and I’m playing good footy again”.
O’Meara, who played all 44 possible 44 games between 2013 and 2014, winning the Rising Star award along the way, was added to the Suns leadership group this year, but while unsigned remains within reach of rivals such as Essendon and Hawthorn.
Also reluctant to commit, Prestia appears out the door at season’s end, while you can’t help but wonder if Swallow, though contracted until the end of 2017, longs for a change of scenery after enduring his own long battle with injury – bone bruising on his left knee.
Eade described having his two young elite onballers, O’Meara and Swallow in the same team next year as “utopia”.
Let’s hope for Eade’s sake, his idea of the perfect paradise on the Gold Coast is realised.