Gold Coast are confident they can continue their excellent form in Darwin when they host the Western Bulldogs in week 2 of the Sir Doug Nicholls Rounds at TIO Stadium.
Last year the SUNS recorded two massive wins over the Hawks and Kangaroos in the back-to-back Darwin games, and skipper Jarrod Witts feels confident the team’s current form can help replicate on this year’s tour.
“We were in a similar position going into these two games last year, and it was a successful trip for us up there last year,” Witts said.
“We’ll just focus on the Bulldogs this weekend, and come up with a way to get over the line and move forward post that game.”
Darwin has become a second home base for the club, with eight players having links to the Northern Territory.
“It’s definitely a second home ground for us up there and it’s incredible how welcoming everyone is when we get up there,” Witts said.
“We’ve got eight guys in our team with connections to the Territory, so it’s great for them to get back up there and see family and friends. We feed off their energy.
“We’re really looking forward to getting back up there and being part of the community once again.”
The first weekend will see the SUNS hosting both AFL and VFL games at Darwin’s TIO Stadium, which defender Charlie Ballard says is great for team bonding to have the whole squad travelling away.
“In those away games, you spend the whole time together, so you connect a lot. It should be a lot of fun,” Ballard said.
“We’ll spend 10 days up there like last year, and I’m looking forward to embracing the Territory.
“But we’re obviously up there to get the two wins.”
The imposing tall defender will be focussing on continuing to play his style of footy in the backline when he travels to the NT.
“I’m happy with the consistency with my own footy, and I’m just focussing on that and doing what I can for the team,” Ballard said.
Although the two games in Darwin will be critical to the SUNS’ season, Witts says it’s important to not look too far ahead and remain focussed on the task at hand.
“We’ll just focus on the Bulldogs this weekend and worry about what comes later, after that,” Witts said.
“The Dogs are a great team, and their midfield is clearly strong again this year.
“They’ve got a good balance between inside and outside players, and we’re expecting it to be on in there.
“The game will be won or lost around the ball, and I think it’s going to be even more important up in Darwin with the ball on the ground a lot more.
“It’s going to be a Territory game. It gets pretty slippery up there, and whoever can control the ball is going to go a long way to winning the game.”