Gold Coast chairman Tony Cochrane has delivered a parting whack to wantaway star Izak Rankine, saying his teammates “felt they were all in this together”.
After a series of successful re-signings over the last 12 to 24 months, the Suns learned at his exit meeting this week that Rankine wants to be traded to Adelaide, where a five-year deal reportedly worth over $4 million is waiting for him.
It’s a major blow to the growing club who had waited for Rankine to finally break out after selecting him with Pick 3 in the 2018 draft, ahead of stars like Max King, Connor Rozee and Bailey Smith. He did so in 2022, becoming one of the game’s best young small forwards.
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But it’s in stark contrast to the number of young Suns who had bucked the historic trend and committed long-term to the club, like dual All-Australian Touk Miller, key forward Ben King and Rankine’s fellow 2018 draftee and South Australian Jack Lukosius.
The ever-outspoken Cochrane said there were “a lot of very disappointed people” at Gold Coast following Rankine’s move, including his teammates.
“When it finally tipped over was at the start of this week, certainly that’s when I was alerted to the fact it was kind of a lost cause,” he said on 3AW’s Sportsday.
“Incredibly disappointing because there’s so many people around our club that gave Izak an awful lot of time. I recall his first year, when they discovered he had a bit of an arthritic hip issue, pelvic area issue, and the time and trouble we went to medically to try and get to the bottom of that and get him sorted for life – not just for footy – and he didn’t play in that first year. It goes right back to those days.
“Stuey Dew has put in a phenomenal amount of time with this kid, he’s been like a second dad to him. He’s helped him in so many ways, to get around and get involved, and he’s also helped him enormously with his football.
“There’s a lot of very disappointed people up here and I know a lot of his fellow playing mates all feel they were all in this together, and they felt he was in this with them and would go forward with them.
“Money talks, huh?”
He added: “Someone else with a big wallet comes along, it makes it pretty hard.”
Meanwhile Cochrane’s own future at Gold Coast is uncertain with the chairman conceding he is “worn out”.
After joining the Suns board in 2014 and becoming chairman in March 2016, Cochrane has helped keep the club in the headlines even during their poor performances given his outspoken style.
Asked how many years he thought he had left in him, Cochrane said: “It’s a question I’m really going to consider over the summer.
“I am a fair bit worn out, it’s been a fairly big job, it’s taken up a lot more hours. And as your listeners are probably aware it’s an honorary job, so it takes up a chunk of hours out of your working life.
“But more importantly than that I’m a bit of a believer in these jobs that you take it on, you work your butt off and you try and leave it in a much better shape than when you fast it, and then the next bloke or lady comes along and they try and move it forward again, and move it up the ladder further forward.
“So a time frame of something like six to eight, nine years is kind of optimal for that. By the start of next year I’ll be heading rapidly to about seven and a half years as president, and before that I did two years as director, so I’m starting to think maybe it’s a good thing for Tony Cochrane to think about stepping down in the near future and letting someone else have a go.
“There’d probably be a lot of people, I suspect in the media, who’ll be very happy to see my ass walk out the door.”
Cochrane said the club was yet to discuss who would replace him but he expected they would look within initially.
The other members of the Gold Coast board are Bob East, Simon Bennett, Paul Scurrah, Martin Rowland, Sam Riley, Leschen Smaller, Rob Charter and Damien Walker.