Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew has spoken of the special bond between co-captain Jarrod Witts and deputy Pearce Hanley that has helped the Irishman through a difficult time in his life.

Hanley has recovered from a corked thigh he suffered in round eight that required surgery and will play Sydney on Saturday, putting to bed another chapter in a frustrating three seasons at the SUNS.

The 30-year-old running defender has dealt with both personal and physical problems since leaving Brisbane in 2016.

Hanley lost his younger brother to cancer in 2017 and has subsequently suffered foot, hamstring, shoulder and quad injuries – the latter two both requiring surgery.

He has played 23 of a possible 57 games since joining Gold Coast.

Dew said getting his vice-captain back to play the Swans was a huge lift for the club.

"He's resilient, obviously, Pearce, and the off-field stuff we can't really even put ourselves in that space because, well ... I certainly haven't experienced anything like that," Dew said.

"It shows a good support and Jarrod Witts has been fantastic for him.

"They live together and I think just having him there is a, I don't know if it's brother or father figure, I'll let them work that out, but they're good for each other.

"Jarrod's partner, Renee, they've helped him through this.

"He loves his footy. It's frustrating because he's a really important part of our side and exciting to watch." 

Dew said he had no hesitation bringing Hanley straight back into the team despite missing so many weeks. Hanley put together a strong pre-season and first eight rounds.

Fellow vice-captain Touk Miller will also play after overcoming a similar quad injury to Hanley's. 

Dew is hoping for a repeat of last year's visit to the SCG where Gold Coast sprung the biggest surprise of the season in upsetting the Swans, but said it was a "distant memory".

"It was a great win … but, essentially, it's almost 12 months ago," he said.

"Some players that played in it will have fond memories but certainly it's not going to help us this week.

"It's a big task. They're up and going again, Sydney. They're playing for finals, they're certainly not out of the mix and we want to try and disrupt that."