It was “heart in mouth stuff” as Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew watched a team still smarting from a heavy first-round loss return to contact training this week.
But it was a welcome sight for Dew, who admits the competition’s shutdown has led to some reflection after a “whirlwind” two years as an AFL head coach.
Dew said he felt helpless when club-wide staff cuts impacted the Suns and left some that remained feeling guilty they still had a job.
“It proves that footy clubs are only as good as their people,” he said.
“You can have the best facilities but if no one’s in there and working together it’s a lonely place.
“(It was) a good time to reflect on … things you’ve learnt and things you might do differently and now we’re just looking forward to some consistency and working with people.”
Their first chance to benefit from any change will come in round two against West Coast on July 13, almost three months after a heavy loss to Port Adelaide.
The 47-point defeat and meagre four-goal effort still irks the Suns who are on a 19-game losing streak.
“There was some heart in mouth stuff on Monday because they’ve been ready to go for a long time,” Dew said of the team’s return to contact training.
“That’s (the loss) been sitting in our stomach for a while … (the players have) wanted to make amends and will finally get the opportunity in a couple of weeks.”
In their favour is a string of home games to begin the relaunched season and a cleaner bill of health.
Dew complimented draft pick Sam Flanders’ efforts during the lockdown, when he stayed on the Gold Coast to improve his fitness.
“He was trying to make up a bit of ground and he’s probably pushed his name up past a few and into selection conversation,” Dew said.
The coach also indicated a fit Izak Rankine was tracking well for his anticipated AFL debut.
“He’s right to go, in full training … (but) we’ve only seen him for three weeks,” he said.
“In an ideal world a little bit longer would be great, but from what we see he’s ready to go.”