WITH its ruck stocks in total disarray, no club is hanging out for the Mid-Season Rookie Draft more than Gold Coast.
The season-ending ACL for skipper Jarrod Witts is the latest setback for a Suns team decimated by knee injuries early in the year.
In the ruck division alone, they are missing Witts, Zac Smith (PCL) - who is expected back in a month - and untried youngster Matt Conroy (ACL), also out for the year.
Back-up option Sam Day is out for an "indefinite" period and not expected to play again until late in the season following surgery on his meniscus.
Gold Coast needs to find solutions over the next month until Smith returns and then the second half of the year, or risk watching another season slip away.
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Witts' injury leaves the Suns with four spots available for the Mid-Season Draft after season-ending injuries to Connor Budarick, Rory Thompson and Conroy.
Football manager Jon Haines said the Suns would need to take both a long-term and short-term view of their list.
"Our recruiting staff are hard at work looking at the state leagues around Australia seeing what might be there," he said.
Here are a few options Gold Coast might consider ahead of the June 2 draft.
28yo, 200cm – Swan Districts
The former Collingwood forward/ruck amassed a whopping 50 hitouts on the weekend in the WAFL. Was named starting ruck in the WAFL Team of the Year in 2020.
25yo, 198cm – Williamstown
Had interest from AFL clubs ahead of last year's NAB AFL Draft given his incredible athleticism. Runs a sub-three-second 20m sprint and can push forward and hit the scoreboard.
25yo, 198cm – Werribee
Cut by Port Adelaide at the end of last season given its depth of big men but has arrived at Werribee with a point to prove.
23yo, 203cm – East Fremantle
Delisted from Fremantle at the end of 2018 and has been playing WAFL since. Had 41 hitouts at the weekend against Peel Thunder.
25yo, 205cm – East Perth
Ex-Fremantle big man who racked up big hitout numbers in the WAFL last year. Mature-age body who could come in and play an immediate role.
29yo, 201cm – Glenelg
Turns 30 in July but has been a solid contributor at SANFL level after 20 games for Fremantle across 2013-2016. Could step in and fill a void on a short-term basis.
30yo, 197cm - Barooga
Ex-Dog has signed to play in country Victoria this season, but could his arm be twisted to play AFL on a four-month deal?
Of more immediate concern for Stuart Dew and his coaching staff is how to cover Witts' absence until Smith is back on deck.
In the next month, Gold Coast faces Carlton, Western Bulldogs, Sydney and Collingwood, which means Marc Pittonet, Stefan Martin, Tom Hickey and Brodie Grundy as opposition ruckmen.
The simple fact is the Suns have no recognised ruck options.
They have two realistic paths they can take.
There is absolutely no way the club's tallest fit player, Ben King, will play that position, so let's get that off the table.
Rookie Pat Murtagh is the next tallest at 196cm, but the former Queensland decathlon champion is a project player and still a way off competing at the top level.
Which takes us to the realistic options – Chris Burgess and Caleb Graham.
Burgess did a fine job against Adelaide on Friday night as firstly a back-up to Day as the second key forward, and ultimately the back-up to Witts as a ruckman in the final quarter.
He stands 'only' 191cm but has an excellent leap and can help out around the ground with his aerial ability.
Graham is the bolter - and a strong chance to take the reins as the No.1 man.
He has played 10 games in his two previous seasons, all as a key defender, but was a ruckman as a junior and has the physicality and height (195cm) to do the job.
Hugh Greenwood could play as a second, or third, option if needed.
Perhaps Graham to ruck with Burgess playing as a second forward offering relief is the way the Suns will go.
Whatever Gold Coast comes up with, rest assured it will be counting the day until the draft when it can add another body to its flagging ruck stocks.