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Gold Coast's unusual 1-7 rating system, and what happens next

Jack Bowes is mobbed by teammates after snagging a goal during the R4 clash between Gold Coast and Carlton - Gold Coast Suns,AFL,Exclusive,Tag-Exclusive
Jack Bowes is mobbed by teammates after snagging a goal during the R4 clash between Gold Coast and Carlton

TWO WEEKS ago Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew and his assistants sat down to individually rate the development of every player on the Suns' list.

It is an exercise the club did before the season started and with the halfway point of the year nearly reached, was something they had booked in to revisit.

I wasn't as interested in what had happened. I wasn't here and I wasn't interested in any stories either. We haven't got a time machine - Stuart Dew

"It gives us a rating internally against the other clubs and the aim is to get each player to improve across the year," said Suns football manager Jon Haines.

"It's a 1-7 scale and there's five different phases from introduction to succession. It's a fairly simple ratings system. It's just our view of the world.

"If we have a player rated a three at the moment, and we want him rated a six or seven, we want to have a plan in place to get him there."

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The reviews, which are also a key performance indicator for the Suns' coaching panel, should have seen many players at the club record improved ratings so far in 2019.

Jack Bowes has emerged as a future star this season, Ben Ainsworth has continued his progress as a smart midfielder who steps up when it matters, Wil Powell has excited, Lachie Weller's pace and class has been important despite his injury, and Brayden Fiorini has also lifted in a first half of the year that has had encouraging signs for the Suns. 

But balancing how Dew wants the team to look in several years, as per the club's in-house metrics system, and how it is now is one of Dew's biggest challenges.

"I find that's the hardest thing, because internally and externally everyone's on the seven-day win-loss cycle," he told AFL.com.au.

"It's a real balance because we obviously want to win every game we play in, but we're always mindful of managing expectations and making sure the players see the little wins. The things we've done in training, the things we've done in a game, but that doesn't guarantee you a result.

"We're trying to teach good habits Monday to Friday, on weekends, attitudes to getting better.

"I find we're always projecting out and trying to make decisions today for what you want the footy club to look like in two to three years."

The internal development reviews and updates are a key factor in the Suns' planning. They are also part of the new regime at the club, with Dew, Haines and list manager Craig Cameron having their first season at Gold Coast last year.

Last year was deemed their 'phase one', and included several key feats off the field such as balancing their Total Player Payments. Dew said it was important to not dwell on what had happened before he was appointed to the role at the end of 2017.

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"When you're a senior coach going for a job, unless you're Chris Scott or John Longmire, they're only changing the coach because they want to change things. Our brief is to come in and make an assessment as quickly as possible about what needed to change," he said.

"To me, I wasn't as interested in what had happened. I wasn't here and I wasn't interested in any stories either. We haven't got a time machine. We know some things that happen at any club going forward influence what happens."

Stuart Dew and Lachie Weller embrace after victory against the Bulldogs. Picture: AFL Photos

The Suns have shown strong signs so far this season, winning only three games but being competitive against West Coast on the road and losing two games by a point.

Dew knows there is a legacy of players leaving the Suns, and no finals appearances, across their history but said that had shifted, and the club was making plans to attract free agents by next year. 

"If you've got an ill-informed view and listen to comments made based on the past…we can't help that," he said.

"We're really confident that when we get players here now, they'll love the place – both the club, the environment, and living here. And see it as a place where we can get the most out of their footy."