Rodney Eade doesn't seem too concerned that his two key defenders will be missing against the AFL's most potent forward line on Saturday.
The Gold Coast coach said not having co-captain Steven May (hamstring) and reliable Rory Thompson (quad) to take on unbeaten Adelaide at Metricon Stadium would be no excuse for a poor showing.
Eade says winning the midfield battle will be the most important aspect of the game, and he has total confidence in his remodelled defence once the ball gets down there.
Jack Leslie, who has played eight games, will likely mark Adelaide captain Taylor Walker, while Keegan Brooksby will be upgraded from the rookie list and is a chance to play as the second tall defender.
Adelaide has averaged 128 points a game through the first four rounds, but Eade said Gold Coast's "team defence" could do the job.
"We will back our system," he said.
"We had Rory out last week and Steven was down a little bit last week. I thought Jack Leslie played well, but I thought our system worked well.
"We have to win the ball in the middle so the ball is going our way rather than the opposition's way, and our pressure around the ball, so that’s what we are concentrating on."
But the SUNS enter the contest full of confidence, defeating Hawthorn and Carlton in the past fortnight to even their win-loss ledger at 2-2.
With swingman Sam Day copping a season-ending hip injury in the first pre-season game, Eade played Leslie throughout the JLT Community Series to give him more experience.
The 21-year-old will step into a leading role after a strong showing against the Blues on Saturday night.
"We have done a lot of work with Jack," Eade said.
"He has worked really hard over the last 18 months.
"He played as a ruckman as a junior, so he was recruited as a long-term defender … it's been a long process for him and I think we saw some great signs over the pre-season, and we thought he adapted pretty well last week.
"He played on some good players and was able to defend really well."
David Swallow (ankle) and Michael Barlow (hamstring) have both trained well this week and are likely to be selected.
Eade said slowing down the Crows would be difficult.
"They are a very good attacking side, they have got an exceptional array of talent in their forward line, but they move the ball extremely quickly.
"Their skill level is very high so they seem to be a very well-rounded team in most areas, but they are exceptional [in] the way they move the ball.
"If we don’t win the ball in the contest and put pressure on them, it's going to be a hard day on our defenders, but we are confident we will be able to do that."
3:26pm Apr 24, 2017
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