Suns chairman Tony Cochrane. Picture: Jerad Williams
Suns chairman Tony Cochrane. Picture: Jerad Williams

Suns to plead case for priority pick

Gold Coast will apply for priority draft picks and want help to retain its star players.

Suns chairman Tony Cochrane confirmed the club would be seeking help to retain star players and strengthen its ailing list with priority draft picks.

If they were awarded a priority pick by the commission, one scenario could see the suns pocket the first two picks if they finish last.

The Queensland expansion club was smashed by 92 points by Richmond at Metricon Stadium on Saturday - their 11th-straight loss under second-year coach Stuart Dew.

"Nobody could genuinely sit there at the moment and say, 'They don't need any assistance, they're all good'," Cochrane told the Herald Sun.





"We have been down on the bottom pretty much our whole existence. So if ever there was a case - and there have been others who have been helped in the past - we are an absolute rock steady, walk up, head start.

"We're travelling along reasonably well financially … so I'm not aware of financial assistance that we will be asking for. We are asking for assistance with the playing roster."

AFL commission chairman Richard Goyder last month revealed the league was considering special rules to force high-end draft picks to stay at the Suns and Brisbane Lions for longer than the mandatory two seasons.

The $200 million Suns were handed special access to state league players ahead of last year's national draft as well as additional funding for their development academy.

Cochrane said a detailed assistance submission would be finalised at this month's board meeting.

"We hope to present it to our July board meeting and then get it in to the commission shortly thereafter," he said.

The Suns boss said the mistakes of the past in setting up the league's 17th club were now "irrelevant".

"The only thing you get from looking back is a sore neck," he said.

"What we have to focus on is what we can do this year, next year and the year after to make sure we are a valuable contributor to the AFL family.

"I couldn't care who did what, how they did it and what they screwed up. To me that is absolute water under the bridge."

Asked what would happen to the Suns if the AFL rejected its request for help, Cochrane said: "I am a very, very, very, very difficult man to say 'no' to. In fact the word 'no' doesn't exist in my vocabulary."

Cochrane said one of the biggest issues facing the Suns' list had been keeping players.

"Certainly we are going to be having discussions in the near future with the AFL," Cochrane said.

"One of the real issues for us has been the retention factor. Whether you like it or not, Melbourne is a pretty big drawcard.


Stuart Dew has the backing of Tony Cochrane. Picture: Getty Images
Stuart Dew has the backing of Tony Cochrane. Picture: Getty Images



"By way of example, Richmond are going to play the next seven weeks at the same ground as the home ground of all the big finals.

"There's a lot draw-carding back to Melbourne and Adelaide and places like that and we've got to have some countermeasures in place.

"The Melbourne clubs have to recognise - if they want it to be truly a national game - that there has to be some assistance given to some of the issues that we deal with.

"I know what I am going to speak to the AFL and the commission about from our point of view."

Cochrane declined to discuss the specifics of the club's submission.

"We have to find ways around helping our retention. I think everything is on the board," he said.

The Suns boss said the club was with comfortable its progress under Dew.

"We announced at the start of the year that we were undertaking a fairly major rebuild under an exciting, young new coach who we have got 120 per cent faith in.

"Despite all of that, a lot of people came out and said that we wouldn't win a game all year.

"With an ounce of luck, we should have won six. We lost three games by less than four points, two of them by a point each.

"I don't think we've actually put together too bad a season when you consider where we were at the start - and the season is not done."


Tom Lynch left the Suns to join the Tigers this season. Picture: AAP
Tom Lynch left the Suns to join the Tigers this season. Picture: AAP



Cochrane said the Suns won just 24 quarters last season and have won 23 so far this year with seven matches to play.

"We clearly believe within our playing group, within our coaching staff and at board level that we are heading in the right direction.

"We've got a lot of really young talented kids and are building around them.

"Unfortunately when you deal with me, you deal with somebody with a pretty good memory, too, because I can take you back to almost the same weekend in 2017 where a side called Richmond played a side called St Kilda and St Kilda absolutely flogged Richmond that day.

"Well, you know what? Only 12 weeks later Richmond won a premiership.

"Now I'm not suggesting for a moment that we are going to win a premiership this year but what I am suggesting is that one weekend or two weekends doesn't define you as a club."

Cochrane said he believed the club "was a couple of years away from finals".

"We need some help from the AFL, obviously, in terms of players and player retention, but we want to keep building and certainly by season 2021 we want to be up and about," he said.