Former Richmond boss Damien Hardwick ‘commits to coaching the Gold Coast Suns for five years’ after leaving the Tigers in shock with burnout just three months ago
- The Suns have their man after a trip to Italy
- Hardwick cited burnout when he left the Tigers
- The triple flag winner now has one of the toughest jobs in football
The Premier’s three-time winning coach Damien Hardwick has signed to take charge of the still-struggling Gold Coast Suns for five years, it has been reported.
The club’s trip to meet the former Tigres boss in Italy has worked out and he will be unveiled as their new leader next week, the sun herald reported.
Hardwick cited burnout as the reason he ended his time with Richmond in May, but appears to have rediscovered his desire to dedicate his life to footy again.
After citing burnout for his shock decision to leave Richmond just three months ago, Hardwick has rediscovered his passion for soccer – and he’ll need it to make the Suns a success.
The former Tigers boss will take over a team that has never finished above 12th on the ladder – with the AFL desperate for them to finally have some success on the pitch (pictured , Suns star James Tsitas, left, celebrates a goal in the loss to Sydney on Saturday)
He will now take charge of the competition’s perennial underachievers, with the AFL’s top brass desperate for him to lift the team to the final for the first time in their history and justify the club’s huge league outlay .
Hardwick is still on vacation in Europe and won’t be back in Australia for an official announcement until next week.
The Suns chased him all the way to Italy, with club CEO Mark Evans meeting him in the picturesque town of Cinque Terre to convince him to commit.
Cracking the Gold Coast market is a high priority for the league, which has poured mountains of money into the franchise since its inception in 2009.
The AFL paid around $1m to help pay for NRL star Karmichael Hunt’s code change to the team – but the team never finished above 12th place on the scale.
Hardwick’s move to the Gold Coast will reignite speculation that Tigers champion Dustin Martin (pictured together) will follow him to the club
Stuart Dew led the Glitter Strip side to their best single-season finish last year – but it wasn’t enough to save his job
Suns coach Stuart Dew was fired in July after leading the club to its best season in 2022.
He was replaced by interim boss Steven King, who is expected to stay with the team, along with assistant Wayne Campbell.
AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan applauded the move, saying: “They’ve made a decision that feels like a club deciding to grow.”
“We believe we have a great opportunity to succeed with this group, but we haven’t seen the improvement we were looking for in 2023 and as a football club we have to be ready to make tough decisions, in this continued success,” Suns president Bob said. Is said at the time.
The Suns (pictured after their Round 21 loss to Adelaide) have talent on their roster but currently sit 15th with just two games left in the season
This difficult decision has now brought them one of the great managers of the modern era.
Hardwick said ‘everything just got a little too much’ as he explained his reasons for leaving the Tigers in a move that shocked the footballing world.
He added that his priority was to ‘decompress’ from the pressures of training and said: ‘I can’t wait to take a break’.
Once he takes the reins on the Gold Coast, he will be in charge of a roster which, while talented, has struggled so far this year.
The Suns are currently 15th on the ladder following their loss to Sydney Swans last Saturday, with an uphill battle against hot Carlton looming this weekend, followed by what should be a win over North Melbourne to complete their season.
Richmond superstar Dustin Martin has been linked with a move to the Suns since rumors began circulating about Hardwick taking the coaching job, and that speculation will now heat up.