It will best be remembered as the Jarryd Roughead retirement game, but Gold Coast's hammering from Hawthorn late in 2019 could also have seen the hatching of a SUNS masterstroke.

In round 22 at Marvel Stadium, Gold Coast was shot, having lost 16 straight games, shredded by injuries, tired, and facing a Hawks team that wanted to send its champion forward out in style.

They did just that, with Roughead booting six goals in the 70-point thumping.

But while Alastair Clarkson's men enjoyed a party of sorts, Stuart Dew pulled a trigger that he is now seeing rewards for.

The Gold Coast coach moved speedy wingman Lachie Weller into the midfield after half-time.

Weller finished with 29 disposals for the day and backed it up with 20 in a full-time move the following week against powerful Greater Western Sydney to round out the season.

But the seed was now planted.

"At the end of the season we thought "let's have a whole pre-season in there and let's have a go"," Weller said.

"It was a mutual thing.

"We've got a lot of big-bodied inside mids, and it gave the opposition a different look and a bit of speed."

Weller was right. Since a young Jaeger O'Meara was railroaded by knee injuries, peak Gary Ablett lost a yard of pace, and Dion Prestia headed south to Richmond, the SUNS have struggled for speed on the ball.

Co-captain David Swallow is ferociously brave – and quick – while Touk Miller and Brayden Fiorini are also excellent at winning the ball.

But Weller provides something different.

The mix of midfielders has been completely changed this season with Adelaide recruit Hugh Greenwood bumping and banging and organising and No.1 draft pick Matt Rowell doing … well, just about everything.

"I think I complement the inside boys and give us a bit more bang for our buck," Weller said.

"We've always been a pretty good stoppage team, but it's always been the second phase (that let us down).

"There's no point me going in there and trying to get into a wrestle with them, it doesn't work.

"I have to play to my strengths, play off the body.

 "You've got to look at the balance, with Rowelly and Hughy and Dave and Touk in there, let them do their thing and win the ball and I'll scoot around the outside and get a handball receive."

It's working so far.

Through three rounds, Weller is averaging 21 disposals and has bumped his clearances from a career average of 1.4 a game up to an average of four, contested possessions from 5.5 to 7.7 and pressure acts from 13 to 16.

All this in games that are reduced by 25 percent.

It's still a steep learning curve for the 24-year-old, though. He says after spending most of his 89 AFL games for Fremantle and the Suns at half-back or the wing, learning where to run and what position to be in is still taking some time.

"The coaches have been allowing me to play to my strengths and really open to me not being a traditional inside midfielder.

"For them to be open and letting me do that has been the best thing for me."

Since coming to the SUNS in a high-profile trade at the end of 2017, Weller has had plenty of attention.

In essence the SUNS gave up pick number two in that draft - that turned into Andrew Brayshaw - and Brandon Matera, in exchange for Weller and the pick that turned into Charlie Ballard.

Ahead of Saturday night's clash against his former club, that trade is looking better for Gold Coast by the day - as is Dew's move of putting the silky-skilled ball user into the middle of the ground.