Guy McKenna to coach Gold Coast AFL club - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Guy McKenna to coach Gold Coast AFL club

01/10/2009 06:26:29 PM Comments (0)

Asked which player he wanted the most at his club after officially being handed the Gold Coast's AFL coaching reins, Guy McKenna's answer was simple: "The best".

While Gold Coast Football Club (GCFC) CEO Travis Auld denied making a multi-million dollar offer to Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett, McKenna made it clear what calibre of player he expected for their 2011 AFL debut.

"We make no bones about going after the best available talent," he said on Thursday.

"It would be derelict of our duty if we don't. If Gary Ablett is the best, Blind Freddy says we are going after Gary Ablett."

If McKenna was nervous about the GCFC's recruitment of Geelong assistant Ken Hinkley this week, his fears were allayed when he re-signed until the end of 2012 on Thursday, ensuring he became the Gold Coast's first AFL head coach.

After arriving late last year before the tourist strip officially had a licence, the AFL Hall of Famer led a Gold Coast under-18s side to the TAC Cup finals in 2009.

The club will contest the VFL next year before making their AFL debut in 2011.

The focus predictably switched from McKenna to who would play under him in 2011 after reports emerged that the Gold Coast were waiting on feedback from Ablett's management on a "multi-million dollar" offer.

With NRL star Karmichael Hunt already on the books, the Gold Coast can sign up to 16 uncontracted AFL players - but not until 2010.

Auld said no offer had officially been made but was the first to admit Ablett - off contract at the end of 2010 - was on their wish list.

"Certainly he is a player you would love to have at your football club," he said.

"But there have been no offers put on the table yet. Gary wanted to get through the finals series then we will start talking to his manager."

Ablett's Geelong team-mate Joel Selwood - also off contract at the end of 2010 - is believed to also be a top GCFC priority.

McKenna was confident his club could lure "the best" after the club was granted a raft of concessions including an extra $1 million in the 2010 salary cap.

"If you are talking about getting a ... player out of their home town and they have had recent success, you are not going to do that by paying them the same amount of money," he said.

"But the way it is set up with the extra money in the salary cap, we can afford to go over the odds and we have to do that to secure good AFL talent that makes us more than competitive in the first couple of years of AFL football."

Adelaide forward Kurt Tippett - who hails from the Gold Coast - has been constantly linked to GCFC and Auld hoped local ties would help bind players to the club.

But Auld believed GCFC's recent recruitment of Geelong's senior assistant Hinkley showed they could lure top names to the tourist strip.

"So we will sell that same dream to the players," he said.

Auld said there was no age limit in their "flexible" recruitment model but conceded they were looking for players who could commit "for the long term".

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