GOLD Coast will head to New Zealand in December for its first pre-season training camp in five years.
The last time the Suns travelled during pre-season was in late 2013 when they spent two weeks in the high-altitude United States city of Flagstaff.
They ventured to the Arizona training hub for three successive years prior to the sacking of inaugural coach Guy McKenna in 2014 and have stayed on the Gold Coast since.
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This time, all 46 players along with a selection of football department staff – coaches, high performance, doctor, physiotherapist – will go to Queenstown on New Zealand’s South Island for a six-day camp starting on December 14.
On Monday, CEO Mark Evans said Gold Coast was undergoing a “deliberate re-set transformation”.
This camp is another step in that process.
Not only is it designed to integrate 13 new players and fresh coaches Josh Francou, Josh Drummond, Tate Kaesler, Andrew Swallow and Tim Clarke, but also lay the foundation of Stuart Dew’s gameplan.
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Football manager Jon Haines said lessons learned from the Suns’ arduous travel schedule early in 2018 was also a factor in deciding on the camp.
“We want to build connections and strong relationships and time spent together is a valuable tool in trying to develop that,” Haines told AFL.com.au.
“As much as the travel schedule early in the season was challenging logistically, the time spent together built some cohesion and built some really strong relationships.”
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The camp will combine adventurous team-building exercises with football sessions and education around Dew’s expectations for 2019.
“Queenstown, it’s not a long travel time but it’s far enough away to take players out of their current comfort zone,” Haines said.
Queenstown is a three-and-a-half-hour flight away – less than Melbourne to Perth.
Gold Coast players will travel to Brisbane as a team and stay overnight before hopping aboard an early-morning flight to New Zealand.