The gap between Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney is nowhere near as big as this year’s AFL ladder suggests, Suns livewire Jack Martin says.
The competition’s two newest clubs clash on Saturday at Metricon Stadium as two very different seasons for the Suns and Giants slowly draw to a close.
GWS have qualified for their first finals campaign and are in genuine premiership contention, but the Suns – who entered the competition a year earlier – are again limping to the finish line after another year destroyed by injury.
The stark contrast in fortunes has led to criticism of the way Gold Coast used their initial player and draft concessions, with some even labelling the decision to recruit Gary Ablett as a multi-million dollar mistake.
Martin, however, believes the Suns will make up lost ground next year on their expansion contemporaries.
“Obviously. they’re a fantastic footy side. It’s a credit to them how well they’ve done,” Martin told AAP.
“They’ve played some exciting footy this year and they’re going to be tough this weekend.
“But I don’t think we’re too far away from them.
“We don’t want to use injuries as an excuse but, once we do get those players back and get another full pre-season into us, things will be different.”
Gold Coast have used an AFL-high 39 players this season but the silver lining is increased depth, with injuries giving younger and less-experienced players more opportunities at the top level.
Martin, who began his career as a forward, has been used to fill holes across midfield and even across half-back, where he impressed in last weekend’s narrow loss to Melbourne.
But the 21-year-old still believes he plays his best football inside 50.
“Once we get the guys back in, I hope I’ve still got a spot in the team,” Martin joked.
“But I think I’m still a forward.
“Hopefully, in a couple of years’ time when I get a lot bigger and stronger, I can push into the midfield.”