THE DEPARTURES of Tom Lynch and Steven May didn't just leave a gaping hole on Gold Coast's playing list – it also cut a swathe through its leadership department.
Following Gary Ablett's exit a year earlier, the Suns have lost three former captains in the space of 12 months.
Not only does Gold Coast need to find a new skipper – or two – but also some fresh blood to fill the remaining leadership positions.
On the surface, the cupboard looks quite bare for the competition's youngest list.
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David Swallow, Jarrod Witts, Touk Miller and Pearce Hanley remain from last year's group, with all under consideration for the top job.
Fresh off signing a new five-year contract extension, Witts said he was confident Gold Coast could cover the vacancies.
"Pearce, Touk and Dave have really stood up this year," he said on Thursday morning.
"There's some guys that have emerged as well.
"We've got 12 or 13 new players and they've got to form opinions around leadership as well, and who they think is best suited to it.
"Emerging-wise, Brayden Fiorini and Jack Bowes have a good hold on things. They understand the game and read it well and pick the best times to speak.
"I think they're well respected among the group."
FULL FIXTURE Every round, every game
Gold Coast will start the formal process to identify its leadership group in the next month or so before finalising it in the lead-up to the opening JLT Community Series match.
Witts said he hoped the long-term commitments from him and Swallow – who also signed for an additional five years – would carry some weight among their teammates.
"I hope now that when we talk it comes from a place of substance, knowing we're in it for the long haul and we really want this club to go forward and that we're really excited about the future," he said.
"We're really confident it's going in the right direction.
"That's what we want to pass on to the young boys, and so far it's been a really good experience this pre-season."
The Suns had a light training session on Thursday morning at Palm Beach to engage with the community.
They set up three stations with players rotating between some light skills, a swimming relay and a game of cricket that passers-by jumped in on.