Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew is as confident as ever that he will earn a new contract with the AFL club despite the looming spectre of Alastair Clarkson.
Four-time premiership mentor Clarkson has declared he will consider offers to return to coaching next season.
The GWS job is available after Leon Cameron stepped down last week.
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But there is widespread speculation the AFL wants Clarkson in the tough Gold Coast market, where the Suns have struggled to make an impact since joining the competition in 2011.
Dew is out of contract at the end of this year but has public support from the Gold Coast hierarchy.
The 42-year-old, who has a 23-1-68 record over five seasons, is confident he will be given a new deal to continue on the path he has led the playing group down.
“I am, is the short answer, and probably the only answer I need to give because that’s how I feel,” Dew told Fox Footy.
“I’m a bit like the players, I’m getting towards that 80 to 100-game mark and I feel really comfortable in my own skin, and in and around the group.
“Our players across all demographics have committed to the club and obviously I’m a big part of that … we’ve got a great environment up here and we’re enjoying where we’re going.”
Clarkson, for whom Dew was a key player in Hawthorn’s 2008 premiership, said last week he felt sick being linked to the Gold Coast role because of the pair’s connection.
Dew said he has not had any contact from Clarkson in recent times.
“My absolute focus is on the team and club, and I think that’s where it needs to be,” Dew said.
Dew has led Gold Coast to upset wins over top-eight sides Fremantle and Sydney over the past two weeks.
Their 4-5 record has confounded the critics and put the Suns on the verge of the finals places ahead of Saturday’s clash with the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat.
“We don’t harp on the underdog tag because then it becomes self-fulfilling,” Dew said.
“We approach each game as if we’ve got the possibility to win and we prepare for the opposition’s best.
“We’re really confident that if we can get our players in the right headspace that that can cater for all opposition.
“Our challenge has been to deliver that and we’ve done that the last couple of weeks but we’ve also had some periods in games that have cost us.”
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