The Gold Coast SUNS will undertake the longest domestic flight in the country to take on the West Coast Eagles in NAB2 on Thursday.
As a result, Senior Coach Rodney Eade is sending an inexperienced SUNS line-up on the six-hour journey west.
“I think we’ve got 14-15 players who have played less than 10 games of AFL footy so those will get a taste of it,” Eade told radio station 6PR.
Falling into this category are draftees Callum Ah Chee, Brayden Fiorini, Mackenzie Willis and Josh Schoenfeld plus rookie Darcy MacPherson whose consistent defensive pressure made him a standout in NAB1.
READ: Manic pressure makes Darcy a standout
While 845 games of experience have been lost since the SUNS’ first NAB1 win against Brisbane, the clash against West Coast allows the younger players the chance to test themselves against the competition’s elite.
“They (the players) are starting to get some real concepts about the way we want to play,” Eade said.
“Even if West Coast have got a really strong side, and obviously have a really talented forward line and they kick a few goals, but if we can just work the way we’ve trained over the summer then I’ll be pleased with it at the end of the game.”
Eade’s attention will be firmly fixed on the team’s ball movement and defensive structures on Thursday, hoping to build on the promising progress he’s seen in the team over the pre-season.
“The things we’ve worked on, which every team has, our ball movement and our defensive accents which I was really pleased with NAB1. Our key indicators were really positive.”
READ: NAB2 Squad Announcement
With various positions still undecided for the SUNS’ round one encounter with Essendon, Eade is looking to the players to take ownership of performance and create their case.
One such player is Brandon Matera.
“He has a lot of talent but like all players we need work ethic and the players who do that will get first crack at it (Round 1),” Eade told the Gold Coast Bulletin.
“We have had some good chats and he took responsibility that he felt a bit fatigued ... and wasn’t quite on his training form that he should be.
“He is one of the players fighting to get a spot and a good performance on Thursday would help his case.”
The Gold Coast SUNS take on the West Coast Eagles at HBF Arena, Thursday March 2 at 4.10pm WST. Click here for more information.