Why the Suns' coach relies on his 'five with 95'

THEY'RE the playing brains trust Gold Coast coach David Lake leans on.

The quintet that guides him on what the players are thinking and negotiates what they might be wanting.

They're the 'five with 95'.

Although not yet in official leadership positions – they will be decided early in the new year – Tiarna Ernst, Leah Kaslar, Sam Virgo, Jamie Stanton and Sally Riley have already been invaluable for Lake. 

After leaving his role as an assistant coach to Brisbane's Craig Starcevich to lead the fledgling Suns, Lake does not pretend to know everything in his first go at an NAB AFL Women's senior job. 

Sam Virgo takes part in a drill at Suns training in November

Speaking with womens.afl, Lake says he's a "relationships-based" coach and is happy to lean on others for advice. 

That extends to his playing group, and in Ernst (22 games), Kaslar (21), Virgo (15), Stanton (23) and Riley (14), he has five experienced hands with 95 games of experience to turn to. 

"I spend a lot of time talking to the five girls," Lake said.

"I've got that resource so I'm able to reach into different environments and different experiences and I'm lucky that five of them can sit in a room and have a developed discussion around what's best for everybody else, not what's best for them. 

"That's been really helpful because I've never been a head coach before, Fi (Fiona McLarty) has never been the CEO of a women's team before, so we rely heavily on our trust in them and their information."

Leah Kaslar's experience has been invaluable to the Suns' inaugural squad

Lake is a well-known figure in local coaching circles, having led both Mt Gravatt and Morningside to AFLQ premierships before joining the Lions as an assistant.

Although not tied to the idea, the veteran coach said it was likely the Suns would select multiple captains for their first season.

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"I don't think one person can do it, is my personal view," he said. 

"The needs vary so much. There's emotional stuff to deal with, there's physical stuff to deal with, some people need a coffee, some people need more than a coffee. It's a lot. 

"I think it's the toughest job in the footy club."  

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Lake says his four-man assistant coaching panel has also been a huge help in the first month of training. 

"Andrew Swallow is my technician, my midfield coach," he said of the former North Melbourne skipper. 

"He's fourth in the history of the AFL in tackles (he was fourth when he retired in 2017 and is now seventh) and he's doing tackling practice, so who's got more validity on that? Him or me?

Gold Coast's AFLW assistant coach Andrew Swallow at training in November

"Darryl White had a great career, but it's his personality. He's a father of eight, he knows how to talk to kids at different ages.

"John Taylor has been coaching the academies, state teams and pathways forever and I've known him for a long time and he's a genuine, caring person. 

"Matt Bedford is a school teacher and was coaching Coolangatta and is a good mate of Leah Kaslar. 

"They're strong on the technical side and a lot of my work is built around relationships."