BEING so good inside the contest has proven a blessing and a curse for Gold Coast midfielder Will Brodie. 

The teenager from Shepparton, in country Victoria, was an early contender to be the dux of the 2016 draft class – a status he wanted – before eventually sliding to the Suns at No.9. 

The greatest knock on Brodie was one he acknowledged himself: his inside-outside balance was out of whack and limited his ball-winning capabilities. 

His clearance work, ferociousness and clean hands in traffic remain his calling card entering his second AFL season, but his improvement away from stoppages is what has set tongues wagging. 

So much so that Brodie, who broke into the Suns' line-up only three times in his debut season, looms as part of the solution to filling the gaping hole Gary Ablett left behind.

Gold Coast's head of development, Shaun Hart, who joined the club from Port Adelaide in October, said the 19-year-old had showed signs he was learning how to maximise his ability. 

"Will's got some speed and can really work and he's starting to push that envelope a little bit more, so he's taken some strides forward," Hart told

"He's got the capacity to be a regular as an inside mid, but it's a fair fight to get in there in our team, because we've got a lot of good inside mids.

"He's starting to add another string to the bow and get a lot more footy on the outside and use his legs and not just be the guy who can mix it up on the inside and win the footy. 

"He's also learning the patterns of outside running, both offensively and defensively." 

There will be more midfield opportunities with dual Brownlow medallist Ablett returning to Geelong, while Gold Coast lost patience with contested-ball specialist Mitch Hallahan. 

A year earlier, Dion Prestia and Jaeger O'Meara also successfully requested trades to Richmond and Hawthorn, respectively. 

Tasmanian Jesse Lonergan, the No.13 draft choice in 2012, is one Sun – 55 games into his career – who will take on more responsibility, but he has noticed Brodie's emergence. 

Whether Fremantle newcomer Lachie Weller slots into an onball role or picks up where he left off at half-back remains to be seen.

Gold Coast invested in its midfield at the national and rookie drafts, snaring top-20 bolter Wil Powell, Charlie Ballard, Connor Nutting and ex-Blue Nick Holman and re-drafting Mackenzie Willis. 

Holman and Willis will have higher expectations, having already played at AFL level, but Hart said the plan was for the younger draftees to develop in the NEAFL. 

"You do get excited about them, but it's early days and there's no pressure on any of these guys," Hart said. 

"We'd hope they have to push really hard to be playing AFL footy. If that's happening, we've got a footy club that's starting to get better."