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Suns unsure about asking for priority pick

Mark Evans says if Tom Lynch knows his future he should tell the club

GOLD Coast hasn’t decided whether it will ask the AFL for a priority pick this year in what shapes as another busy off-season for the club.

The Suns have won just three games this season, and only one since round five. It means in the past four seasons they have won 19 games out of 81, and they are yet to taste finals action in their eight seasons in the competition.

Unlike previous forms of the priority pick system, there is no set criteria for qualifying for an extra draft selection, with a proposal for special assistance needing to be put forward to the AFL.

Asked this week if the Suns would look for a priority pick to help turn around their woes, chief executive Mark Evans said they “don’t know”. But he recognised the complexities in requesting help via the NAB AFL Draft.

“I can see the issues with the priority pick system for the AFL as it was, and as it currently is,” he said.

“I would’ve thought the old priority pick system created some behaviours you wouldn’t want to see, and I can also see the newer special assistance system is an application that goes to the commission for a decision.

“It will be pretty difficult for the commission to look at one club in isolation as opposed to providing a system that meets all clubs’ needs.”

Brisbane was the last club to be given a priority pick when it was handed an end-of-first round selection in 2016 after the club had won only 24 games in the previous four seasons.

Carlton, which looks headed for the No.1 pick this year, has ruled out requesting a priority pick.

The Suns already hold four picks inside the first two rounds of the draft (currently No.2, 16, 25, 30) and may get access to an extra early draft choice regardless of their decision on the priority pick if co-captain Tom Lynch departs as a restricted free agent.

The compensation would almost certainly be a first-round pick, meaning the Suns could end the year with picks No.2 and No.3.

Lynch has been strongly linked to Victorian powerhouses Collingwood, Richmond and Hawthorn, but will miss the rest of the season due to knee surgery.

Evans said the club hopes Lynch informs them of his decision as soon as he has made up his mind.

“We’ve had some conversations with Tom but we try not to have them every day. It’s a little bit different now that he’s injured. We have said to him that if he knows then we think as captain he should let us know. That time obviously comes pretty soon,” he said.

Evans said he didn’t know if Lynch had settled on where he will be playing next year, but admitted to concerns as the wait drags on.

“When it’s your captain and you’re not in deep contract discussions two-thirds of the way through the season you have fears around that,” he said.

The Suns’ other co-captain Steven May becomes a free agent at the end of 2019, but reports have linked Collingwood with making a play for the defender this season. Of that speculation, Evans said “nothing’s come to us”.

Evans, who joined the Suns at the start of 2017 having been the AFL’s football operations boss, reiterated his views the free agency system favoured clubs in the premiership window and “distorts” where the best players end up.

He said there was a danger of clubs falling into the cycle of “only nurturing talent for them to go and flourish somewhere else”.

The AFL has in previous years investigated the concept of giving bottom-four clubs an extra selection near the top of the draft to help expedite their rise up the ladder.

Evans isn’t sure on the feasibility of that model, but sees merit in a system that helps bottom clubs turn things around in a quicker manner.

“There’s some difficulties with where you draw the line, because that could potentially change the behaviours to fall into that if your season was already done and dusted. Do you change your behavior to get that outcome?” he said.

“To me there’s one distinct ladder position where you wouldn’t change that, and that is making finals and not making finals. If that’s a delineator then that makes more sense.”