Hawks legend and now Fox Footy commentator Jason Dunstall.
Hawks legend and now Fox Footy commentator Jason Dunstall. Tim Carrafa

New Suns coach faces uphill battle with list, says Dunstall

QUEENSLAND footy legend Jason Dunstall says "refurbishing" the Gold Coast playing list will be top priority for the new Suns head coach - whoever that may be.

With Brad Scott out of the running after re-signing with North Melbourne, John Barker is firm favourite to win the role.

A five-man panel has been selected to interview prospective coaches and then make a recommendation to the board.

Barker, who was an assistant coach at Hawthorn before joining Carlton under Mick Malthouse and now Brendon Bolton, has Dunstall's backing.

But the man who famously brought Alastair Clarkson to the Hawks in 2004 says two former senior coaches deserve consideration, Brett Ratten and Michael Voss.

That pair was previously in charge of Carlton and Brisbane respectively. They are now assisting at Hawthorn and Port Adelaide.

When questioned about the Suns job in July, Voss said his focus was on the Power. Ratten said in May he would be interested if an opportunity came.

"You would like to think that second time around you'd be a much better coach," Dunstall said. "They've both gone to different environments and gathered more footy IP.

"I think you'd be silly not to look at them."

Four-time premiership Hawk Dunstall said Barker had all the attributes to succeed as a senior coach.


Blues player Dale Thomas (centre) is seen with assistant coach John Barker (right) during the Carlton Blues training session at Princes Park in Melbourne, Friday, August 18, 2017. (AAP Image/Joe Castro) NO ARCHIVING
Blues assistant coach John Barker watches Dale Thomas at training. JOE CASTRO

"I think Barks showed when he was in charge of Carlton (for 14 games in 2015) when Mick Malthouse left he was more than capable," he said.

"He's very calm ... he's got some fire inside him, there's no doubt about that. He had that as a player but, outwardly, he remains very, very calm.

"He's very likeable ... he's got good people skills.

"(But) until you get that opportunity to do it and fully run the club's football department yourself and not in a caretaker role, you don't really get tested.

"You can make educated decisions about coaches but there's always a slice of luck involved."

Critical of the way the Suns' playing list was set up, Dunstall said there were more pressing matters than "whether the coach is experienced or not".


MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 10:  Hawks head coach Alastair Clarkson (L) walks off after quarter time with assistant coach Brett Ratten during the round three AFL match between the Western Bulldogs and the Hawthorn Hawks at Etihad Stadium on April 10, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Hawks head coach Alastair Clarkson (left) with assistant coach Brett Ratten. Michael Dodge

"I think they've got list problems. They need to address that," he said.

"With all the concessions they were given ... you look at GWS and say 'wow, there's talent there, when they get it together they are going to win premierships'.

"You look at Gold Coast and you see some talent there but I think they are lacking in a number of areas. They really need to refurbish that list before they can compete."

Whether Gary Ablett departs for Geelong or not, Dunstall said the Suns "certainly need some midfield depth".

He said their key-position stocks were good, with bookends Steven May and Tom Lynch "absolutely fantastic" and defenders Jack Leslie and Rory Thompson "very, very good".

"Peter Wright, we're still waiting to see how good he can be, and Sam Day never seems to get a run at it, he always seems to find ways to get injured," Dunstall said.


Port Adelaide Coach Ken Hinkley (left) and assistant coach Michael Voss share words at half time during the Round 3 AFL match between the Port Adelaide Power and the Essendon Bombers at Adelaide Oval in Adelaide, Friday, April 8, 2016. (AAP Image/Ben Macmahon) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley (left) talks with assistant coach Michael Voss. BEN MACMAHON

"But they're okay key position-wise. They just need more class around the footy."

Suns chief executive Mark Evans will head up the five-man coaching interview panel, alongside former Bulldogs player and chief executive Simon Garlick - who chaired the panel that chose Luke Beveridge as Dogs coach - former Crows coach Neil Craig, Suns football manager Marcus Ashcroft and Matti Clements, a senior psychologist at Mental Edge Consulting.

Dunstall, now a Fox Footy commentator, said the club was in good hands with Evans, the one-time Hawks football boss and AFL football operations head.

"He's as good a person that Gold Coast could have found," Dunstall said. "He makes some very calm and considered decisions - very circumspect sort of person.

"He's the perfect person to try and restructure that footy club.

"He's got to find a few good people in very important positions up there to help him do it."