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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

Former Port Adelaide and Hawthorn premiership player Stuart Dew has been appointed as the new senior coach of the Gold Coast Suns. Dew, 38, won out over Carlton assistant coach John Barker and Collingwood assistant coach Scott Burns. He, like Barker, has completed his Level Four coaching course and won strong reviews throughout the AFL program which was designed to help assistants advance to senior positions. Dew was first interviewed formally by the Suns in mid-September, along with Adam Kingsley (St Kilda), Jade Rawlings (Melbourne) and former Western Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney. He, Barker and Burns made it to the final interview stage.

Since his retirement as a player at the end of 2008, he has served as an assistant with the Sydney Swans under Paul Roos and John Longmire. He passed on interviewing for the senior position at Brisbane last year and turned down an offer to be Roos' successor at Melbourne.

Sydney, despite losing highly rated assistants Josh Francou (Adelaide) and Henry Playfair (St Kilda), have endorsed Dew as a senior candidate wirh Coach John Longmire sure he can succeed "I'm just really pleased he gets his shot at a senior coaching job, and I think the Gold Coast is a good fit for him. I don't know whether you ever know if you are ready – either yourself or other people … it's a combination of opportunities and feeling confident ... in your preparation. "He's certainly worked at his coaching craft ... and had a number of varied roles and been exposed to a number of different things outside of coaching as well." Longmire also said Dew's knowledge and understanding of the game and his ability to form strong bonds with players would hold him in good stead, "Your relationships can be a little bit different between an assistant and a senior coach, just because of the nature of the role ... You have to make some pretty tough decisions as a senior coach that you may not necessarily have to make consistently as an assistant coach. So those relationships naturally evolve in your experience as a coach, particularly when you go from an assistant to a senior coach, but he's smart, he understands people and he's got a good ability to relate to different people." While he conceded that those on the outside might not understand all the challenges Dew would face with the Suns, he is sure Dew will be a good fit at the under-performing club. Longmire also said that Dew had a good sense of timing for when things needed to be lightened up.

Suns CEO Mark Evans, who recommended Dew to the board and knew Dew when both were at Hawthorn, said Dew's standout characteristics were his footy smarts, commitment to high-performance culture, and his ability to band a group of people together to chase success, "There's no secret he is heavily influenced by the Sydney Swans ... Hawthorn ... and Port Adelaide and the successes they have had and the way they have galvanized a playing group, a coaching group and a staff." Evans indicated the club was not expecting a miracle. "We're not expecting on day one he has every single answer. We are expecting that he will be the leader ... to continually assess and analyze where they're at and chase down whatever is new to make us even better. He does it himself and I'm sure he has a great capacity to inspire that in others ... Stuart will be given the resources and time it takes ...".

Dew also is practical, and has not set any bold goals for 2018 but said he was looking forward to taking over, declaring "the bigger the challenge the better the rewards". He pointed to Richmond's success in 2017, rising from 13th in 2016 to claim the premiership this year, as proof of what a club could achieve when it was united towards a common goal. Asked what he expected when making the step from assistant to senior coach, Dew said he had been given some idea by Sydney coach John Longmire., "As an assistant you have a little bit of a fingerprint on it, but you're not the leader of the club. That's the jump, and John's told me that and you never know until you're in the chair. I'm certainly looking forward to input from all, but understand I am the decision maker."

Dew will need to make a decision on his team of assistants, with the Suns yet to confirm the futures of Matthew Primus, Ashley Prescott and Andy Lovell. Dean Solomon who stepped in as caretaker coach when Rodney Eade decided not to see out the season, is expected to remain with the club. He is already planning to meet with all of them as well as the players.

Two players he is keen to meet with are forward Tom Lynch, who become a free agent at the end of 2018, and Gary Ablett, who has told the club he wants to return to Geelong. He actually has already contacted Lynch who is holidaying in Europe. He has yet to speak with Ablett. He made it clear he wants both to remain, "... I'll make sure they understand that I've got a clear view of what a successful environment looks like and I'd love them to be part of it ... Tom Lynch in particular as captain, I love watching Tom Lynch and I've admired him from afar, so I'd love that opportunity to work with him ... ". It is believed Lynch is committed to seeing out his contract but wants to see improvement in the team before signing a new contract. The Suns won just six games in 2016.

Dew played 180 games for Port Adelaide and was a member of their 2004 premiership team. He retired at the end of 2006, but former Port Adelaide assistant coach Alastair Clarkson lured him out of retirement in 2008 to play for the Hawks. Many were skeptical at the time.

The Swans have appointed the just retired Steve Johnson and NEAFL coach Rhyce Shaw as assistants to Longmire and former Swans Jeremy Laidler and Tadgh Kennelly have been appointed as development coaches.


Article last changed on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 - 4:11 PM EDT

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