Beating Geelong by 40 points has been hailed as a “fork in the road” in Gold Coast’s AFL journey from easybeats to finals contenders.
Suns coach Guy McKenna says last Saturday’s impressive display against the Cats highlighted to him that his young team is now physically ready to compete with the competition’s best.
That theory will be solidly tested as the Suns aim to back up their victory over Geelong with another good display against premiers Hawthorn in Launceston this weekend.
The Suns’ 99-point loss to the Hawks at Metricon Stadium in round four is easily the worst of the five defeats McKenna’s team have suffered in their 2014 campaign.
After narrowly missing out on a win against West Coast in Perth a fortnight ago and then the great showing against the Cats, McKenna is hopeful his team has improved enough to give the Hawks a much stiffer test this time around.
“To take Geelong on at their own game, it was a fork in the road so to speak, and they got through it okay. That was pleasing,” McKenna said.
“Regardless of who we’re playing, whether it’s a top-four side or a bottom-four side, it’s about mentally and physically replicating that, and we have to do that for at least nine weeks.
“If we do that well for nine weeks … you’ll get a chance to play your 10th, 11th or 12th week.”
The Suns will travel south without small forward Brandon Matera.
The goalsneak suffered an adductor injury against the Cats and McKenna confirmed on Wednesday he’ll be sidelined for at least two weeks.
“We are better with Brandon Matera in our side, you won’t hear me say anything else about Fish, but it gives an opportunity for Jack Martin to play more of a game this week,” he said.
“It’s going to supply an opportunity for another younger player to come into the side and grab his opportunity with both hands.”