GOLD Coast is confident a meeting with Jack Martin late last year will help the speedster overcome an unsettling off-season and fulfil his lofty potential in 2019.
Suns coach Stuart Dew met with Martin after last year's NAB AFL Trade Period, during which the talented West Australian was strongly linked with a move to Essendon.
It was one of a number of meetings that took place within the Suns following the exchange period, the majority of which were organised and run by the playing group.
The Bombers ultimately couldn't secure a deal for Martin, instead turning their attentions to Dylan Shiel, though their interest in his services is unlikely to waiver throughout the next year.
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Uncontracted beyond 2019, Martin remains one of the club's most important players, with his signature looming as a key part of Gold Coast's continued rebuild under Dew.
However, in an exclusive interview with AFL.com.au, Dew reiterated that simply allowing the talented 24-year-old to flourish was his and the club's main priority going into this season.
"We've spoken to Jack about how important the year is for him, but also for us as a footy club," Dew said.
To be honest, Jack is the best on the track at the moment. He's training really well, he's really motivated and he's driving the group. Jack's got such a high footy IQ, so when he speaks everyone listens.
"Everyone is loving Jack at the moment with the way he's going about it. It's great to see, because the new coaches have come in and the first thing they talk about is how good Jack Martin is. He's held up his end of the bargain.
"He's got really fit, so we'd love to play him in the midfield a fair bit. We know he can play forward and hit the scoreboard, but I think Jack is hungry for a bit more responsibility."
The whispers surrounding a proposed move taking Martin to Essendon came when former co-captains Tom Lynch and Steven May left for Richmond and Melbourne respectively.
Aaron Hall, Jack Scrimshaw, Kade Kolodjashnij and Jarryd Lyons had also left the club in a period of upheaval as the Suns started yet another list rebuild.
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It led to the club's new breed of leaders –Touk Miller, David Swallow, Jarrod Witts and Pearce Hanley – calling a meeting to discuss what was expected of the remaining group.
"We had some meetings, but they were more at the end of the season about what we thought was needed for the footy club to move forward," Dew said.
"Pleasingly, a lot of the senior players were the ones driving that. In the last meeting before they went on holidays, the leaders took that meeting and spoke to the playing group about what their expectations were and how they thought we were going to climb the ladder.
"We handed it over to those players, which were Touk, Dave, Jarrod and Pearce. I think the guys did really well across the journey of that break and came back fit."
Dew said the club didn't hold any official meetings of the coaching group surrounding last year's player exodus, but addressed the squad as to the reasons behind their strategy.
"What we did was inform the playing group about why decisions were made," Dew said.
"Of the guys that left, a lot of people thought they just left. But there were some guys where it was a mutual decision and we thought it was best for them and best for us as a footy club."