BY AUBREY HAMLETT
13 September 2011
This article originally appeared on upstart Magazine
The Gold Coast Suns and the Melbourne Rebels made their inaugural debut in the 2011 AFL and Super 15 season. Aubrey Hamlett compares the highs and lows of the new teams.
But with so many young players, the 2012 season will give both teams a chance to continue building their respective franchises on and off the field.
In his debut AFL season, Swallow was nominated for the AFL Rising Star award. The number one draft pick finished his first season having played 20 games and averaging 19.9 disposals per game.
Phipps was voted the Melbourne Rebels Player of the Year and Super Rugby’s Australian Rookie of the Year. He was also selected with fellow Rebels teammate, Mark Gerrard for the Wallabies 2011 Tri Nations team.
Ablett was infamously poached from the Geelong Cats, where he was a two-time premiership player and 2009 Brownlow medallist. He was lured by the opportunity to captain the Suns, play alongside his younger brother Nathan, and help build the AFL’s newest franchise.
The Rebels, meanwhile, recruited star fly-half and Englishman, Danny Cipriani. In recruitment terms it was the equivalent of hiring Ablett. But, unlike Ablett, Cipriani hasn’t had a season free of controversy.
Despite rumours, Cipriani will honour his two-year contract and stay with the Rebels for the 2012 Super 15 season.
However, it was not all-bad press and broken curfews.
Each team won three games that were hard fought and not easily won. The Suns defeated Port Adelaide, the Richmond Tigers and the Brisbane Lions. The Rebels defeated the Canberra Brumbies, Wellington Hurricanes and Perth’s Western Force.
Both clubs also spent the season trying to create a strong supporter base.
The Suns and the Rebels both won the wooden spoon in their inaugural seasons, giving them one more thing in common: the goal of moving further up the ladder next year.