Senior Coach Stuart Dew says an opportunity beckons for a number of players with the SUNS set to get creative with their taller options.
The loss of captain Jarrod Witts to a serious knee injury will create some headaches come selection time for Saturday’s Round 4 fixture against Carlton, but Dew says there are a number of options available.
Chris Burgess filled the ruck void late in the Round 3 defeat against the Crows, making eight hitouts to go with two second-half goals, while Caleb Graham and Hugh Greenwood also have prior experience in the middle of the ground.
“It’s an opportunity for some other guys to fill the void,” Dew said.
“We have Zac (Smith) who is a few weeks away, but we have some things in place to try mitigate that area of the ground and obviously still be on the front foot.
“Chris (Burgess) has really stepped up, regardless of when Wittsy went down and that’s shown throughout pre-season as well.
“Caleb (Graham) has rucked before, he’s athletic, a competitor, he’s got the height and he doesn’t mind the contest.
“Hugh Greenwood has done a bit in the past and he’s quite hard to handle given his follow-up. That could create a little bit of flexibility in the side and perhaps some unpredictability for the opposition.”
The SUNS welcome Carlton to Metricon Stadium on the back of the Blues first win of 2021, and Dew is expecting a fierce contest with the midfield battle to be pivotal.
“David (Teague) talked about their contest and that’s where they want to build their game. They certainty delivered on that on the weekend,” Dew added.
“We’re preparing for a fierce contest. They’ve hit the scoreboard a fair bit, we like to think we can give some resistance to that and give our forwards opportunity with some good ball.
“As always, it’s won or lost in the midfield.”
The development of SUNS key forward Ben King continues to impress Dew with the 20-year-old having kicked at least three goals in each game to date in 2021 and finding himself among the AFL’s leading goalkickers.
“The one thing about Ben this year is he’s rarely being out-marked. He’s hitting the scoreboard, bringing our smalls in to play and we’re really happy with him,” Dew continued.
“He’s searching for improvement every week and we’re really happy with how he’s developing.”