Suns to use AFL rivals Swans as role model
A steep learning curve might still await the Gold Coast but Suns coach Guy McKenna hopes Saturday night’s clash with AFL ladder leaders Sydney at Metricon Stadium fast-tracks their education.
McKenna has never hidden his admiration for the Swans, even hiring ex-captain and premiership player Brett Kirk as an assistant to help instil a “winning culture”.
However, the Suns mentor believed the best way his young side could learn what it takes to be an AFL contender was to line up against one of them.
He should be careful what he wishes for – the merciless Swans will be out to boost their percentage against the equal-last side ahead of a tough run home while on top of a congested AFL ladder.
But McKenna hoped his side learnt some lessons from Sydney – for better or worse.
“Sure, you want to model yourself on Sydney,” McKenna said.
“It is great exposure for our side – a great step up in experience.
“We understand how good they are playing.
“Their culture on and off the field states just why they have been competitive for so long – it is a great opportunity for our young side to take them on.”
McKenna hoped it would also provide a timely gauge for the Suns after they bounced back from a 126-point round-14 humiliation at the hands of West Coast with three solid results including a shock, season-opening win over Richmond.
“It’s never give in. It’s not a lapse of concentration. It’s contest by contest,” McKenna said of the Swans.
“We talk about minute by minute … they probably talk about second by second and that’s the reason they’re on top of the ladder right now.
“It’s just a fantastic opportunity for us.”
McKenna hoped Kirk’s Midas touch had already rubbed off on his band of youngsters.
“We make no bones about half the reason Brett Kirk is in the role – it is to tap into some of that (Swans’ culture),” he said.
“Who you are and what you are off the field generally gets manifested on the field in times of need.
“Their culture off the field – you can see that work very well for them on the field.
“And over a period of time, not just this season – 2005, 2006 when they contested two grand finals – so it stands the test of time.
“Quite clearly, the way their players play – in and around the stoppages, hard, head over it, and the way they move the ball so quickly from defence with a wave of runners – you want to model yourself (on them).”
Gold Coast’s chances won’t be helped by the loss of prized midfielder Michael Rischitelli (ankle/knee) for what McKenna hopes is just a week.© AAP 2013