Rising star Jaeger O’Meara has requested a trade out of Gold Coast to triple premiership powerhouse Hawthorn. An also-ran situation for Gold Coast, as O’Meara looks to change his footballing fortunes, Gold Coast could do the same.
As expected, The Gold Coast Suns were always going to experience an exodus of talent as their existence went on, be it through AFL imposed list restrictions or the more conventional means; trades, delistings, opportunity or the dreaded ‘go home’ factor – it’s unavoidable for just about any team in the AFL. However, the manner in which teams respond to these reasons is what can determine their fate going forward.
Teams who have struggled in recent seasons are often doing so due to poor reactions to players desires to leave, Gold Coast and Brisbane being two prime examples, and whilst Brisbane has a wealth of other issues, The Gold Coast could solve a lot of theirs with one simple change. Courage.
The lack of courage that the Suns have shown in recent seasons when seeing their talented players leave the club has been a large contributor to their issues, both on and off the field – the lack of courage is hurting their performances and their lack of performances are hurting their culture.
So, now that, again one of their star youngsters in O’Meara wants to join the exodus of players, the Gold Coast have yet another opportunity to change their ways and they have to do it here, but how? They have to play hard ball with Hawthorn and have to be prepared to lose.
There’s no doubting that Hawthorn will love O’Meara’s declaration of intention to join them next season, they are a reigning triple-premiership juggernaut with an ageing midfield who will look at every possible means to extend their premiership window, adding O’Meara does that, but, for the first time in a while, adding a star will come at the cost of a star.
Hawthorn have added talent with impunity in recent years without the loss of much of their own, with the likes of Billy Hartung and James Sicily still waiting in the wings for a crack at consistent football. O’Meara’s addition will now squeeze some of this talent out, and Gold Coast can strike.
Gold Coast must demand two players in return for O’Meara, and the two they should ask for are Billy Hartung and Ben Stratton.
Loosing O’Meara means you lose both leg speed and elite disposal, so, these two replace that. Hartung is a strong runner with an ever-developing efficient disposal rate while Stratton possess both elite kicking, speed and an uncanny knack to shut down many a dangerous opponent. Getting Hartung shouldn’t be so difficult, given the chance at playing consistently is in front of him next season, as opposed to being behind the likes of Hodge, Mitchell, Burgoyne and possible Tom Mitchell should Hawthorn secure him this off-season.
Along-side the likes of a fit again David Swallow, a constantly improving Aaron Hall and a potential star in the making Touk Miller, the Gold Coast midfield would be a forced to be reckoned with.
The addition of Stratton could be harder to secure, since returning from hampering hamstring issues, he has been an ever-present fixture on the Hawks half-back line with Josh Gibson and Grant Birchall, however, with the impending loss of Josh Gibson and Luke Hodge in the coming season or two, they could be reticent to let him leave.
This is where the Gold Coast Suns must make a stand and show courage. Whilst it’s easy to demand what they want in return, it’s another thing to see it go over the line, but they must be seen to being trying and failing, rather than falling flat from the outset. They must be prepared to lose him for nothing before they are prepared to take what they are given.
Lose O’Meara for nothing before you lose him for something that you aren’t prepared to take.