2022 Trade Analysis: Tom Berry, Gold Coast

Welcome to the 2022 Free Agency & Trade Period analysis series. Over the next fortnight, the plan is to look at every player heading to a new club. It’s not going to be a ‘who won the trade’ series, but rather a look at how players fit into existing setups, or what changes they may force.

After not quite understanding the logic behind a four-year deal for Ben Long, Gold Coast’s acquisition of Tom Berry makes much more sense.

Berry, betting on himself after four years spent largely at state level for Brisbane, makes his way to the Suns where they see him as a pressure forward.

The Suns’ forward line will go through a period of change to start 2023, leaving an opening for Berry to earn consistent AFL minutes for the first time.

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The combination of Ben King’s return from injury and Izak Rankine’s departure to Adelaide creates a new-look Gold Coast forward line in 2023.

After the Suns spent all year running a two-tall look – Levi Casboult and Mabior Chol combining for 79 goals – the question is whether they can fit alongside King in a three-tall format.

If/when the Suns try that, it increases strain on the remaining small forwards. Without the ball, they have to do the work of an extra player to match the 2022 level of pressure which was a key to their game.

Clearly the Suns see Berry’s skill set as a part of that. It’s a departure from the role he was playing at VFL level – largely through the midfield – but does present as something that can transition smoothly.

There’s also Rankine’s departure ridding Gold Coast of their most offensive ground level presence. It’d be unrealistic to expect Berry to come close to replacing that, but small forwards are an area where the Suns are well stocked.

With Oea and Rosas as options, as well as best 22 lock Ainsworth playing slightly higher up, the Suns can mix and match their ground level choices depending on form.

Berry adds to that and creates a logjam of options for Stuart Dew. Whether the former Lion becomes a first choice player or not remains to be seen, but he’s moved to a situation where playing time is open and he’s further up the depth chart.

Gold Coast, injuries permitting, should be on the fringe of finals next year and Berry’s given himself a chance of playing in key moments.

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If you’ve missed any of the Free Agency & Trade Analysis posts, here’s where to catch up:

Friday 30th
Karl Amon, Hawthorn

Monday 3rd
Jayden Hunt, West Coast | Bobby Hill, Collingwood

Tuesday 4th
Blake Acres, Carlton | Liam Jones, Western Bulldogs | Daniel McStay, Collingwood

Wednesday 5th
Ben Long, Gold Coast | Zaine Cordy, St Kilda | Griffin Logue & Darcy Tucker, North Melbourne

Thursday 6th
Josh Corbett, Fremantle

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