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Marc McGowan  October 21, 2017 2:34 PM

AFL 2017 Round 19 - GWS Giants v Fremantle

Lachie Weller joined the Suns during the Trade Period

GOLD Coast's bold move to part with pick two in this year's NAB AFL Draft for Lachie Weller was made with a bigger-picture view, according to chief executive Mark Evans.

The Suns are still trying to find their feet seven years into their AFL existence, and will have to adapt to life without 2017 club champion Gary Ablett, dashing defender Adam Saad and goalsneak Brandon Matera.

They were widely panned for giving in to Fremantle's hardline stance on Weller, a Tasmanian who spent time before on the Gold Coast completing school and playing football before going west.

But Evans told Melbourne radio station SEN that Weller's recruitment decision, and its high price, wasn't as simple as the Suns solely weighing up his value against the top end of the 2017 draft class.

Gold Coast had four top-10 draft picks last year – spent on Ben Ainsworth, Jack Scrimshaw, Will Brodie and Jack Bowes – and acquired an extra first-round selection for 2018 in a swap with West Coast.

The Suns originally offered a future first-round pick for Weller that the Dockers baulked at and insisted it had to be this year's to coincide with losing the highly rated 21-year-old. 

"You always want to hold pick two if you can, but when we looked at it over the two-year play, we were going to end up with Lachie Weller and two high draft picks in either situation," Evans said.

"This just delays the draft pick by one year, so across the three-year period, (recruiting boss) Scott Clayton will still have delivered four top-10 picks last year, two top picks next year and Lachie Weller, so over a three-year plan, I think we're comfortable."

Gold Coast, like all clubs outside Victoria, where the bulk of AFL talent still comes from, faces the constant challenge of player retention because of the "go-home factor".

The introduction of club academy programs designed to identify, develop and give first-choice access to local footballers has helped the Queensland and New South Wales sides.

Evans, who has monitored the situation from various angles with his involvement at Hawthorn, the Suns and the AFL, said clubs had a responsibility to establish a strong environment.

"I've always felt there were some clubs who were applying for (assistance) who had to get their house in order first," he said.

"I don't disrespect or under acknowledge the difficulties. I think probably what happens in the salary cap, you tend to overpay a little bit, because of the possibility that someone will leave, so I know that is difficult.

"But I still maintain, if I was to look at Brisbane this year compared to last year, there's a real sense that Chris Fagan, David Noble and Greg Swann are starting to build something, and that's by far more important than anything else."

Evans also used Josh Kelly's decision to ignore huge offers to re-sign – even for only two years – at Greater Western Sydney as an example of a player liking and believing in the club's culture.

"I've always had a strong belief, one, create a great club, (and) really look after people, that includes players, partners, families," he said.

"Give them a real sense of hope as to where your club's going, and then you can hold as many as you can."

Evans praised co-captain and 2018 free agent Tom Lynch's role in trying to persuade Saad to stay and the Weller negotiations and said the Suns have "got some time" to re-sign the star forward.

He also hinted they could yet unite contracted former North Melbourne captain Andrew Swallow, who the Roos may delist, with his brother David on the Gold Coast.