Suns to disrupt as Rankine returns as a Crow

Murray Wenzel |

Izak Rankine’s first game back on the Gold Coast for Adelaide is one the Suns are relishing.
Izak Rankine’s first game back on the Gold Coast for Adelaide is one the Suns are relishing.

Gold Coast plans to crash Adelaide’s offensive party as two familiar faces return to Carrara for the first time.

The Suns host the Crows on Saturday at People First Stadium, fresh off a 39-point Opening Round AFL win over Richmond in Damien Hardwick’s first game in charge.

A record 11 consecutive goals flowed for the home side early in that clash but their inability to run away with it after leading by 67 points left a sour taste in Hardwick’s mouth.

The Crows (2193) finished 10th last season but shaded top three sides Collingwood (2142), the Brisbane Lions (2180) and Port Adelaide (2149) for points scored.

Gold Coast are unchanged from the team that beat the Tigers while the absence of injured talls Taylor Walker (back) and Riley Thilthorpe – he’ll miss three months with a knee injury – won’t help the visitors.

But in former Suns gun Izak Rankine and Chris Burgess, who kicked three goals in their VFL grand final win last year, they will arrive with plenty of motivation.

Small forward Rankine, pick No.3 in the 2018 draft, hasn’t played on the Gold Coast since his trade before last season.

Burgess claimed the past two Jim ‘Frosty’ Miller Medals as the VFL’s leading goal kicker but wasn’t able to crack the Suns’ top squad.

Chris Burgess.
Former Suns key forward Chris Burgess evades two Crows defenders. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS)

So he secured a trade to South Australia and will make his club debut for a side that has Hardwick on high defensive alert.

“They’re the number one offensive side last year, so we’re going to have our work cut out for us,” he said.

“They control their defence through their offence.

“If we allow them to control the ball … we know we have to change that, disrupt it as best we can, force them into a style they don’t want to play. Easier said than done.”

Crows coach Matthew Nicks has welcomed bullish forecasts of a return to finals for the first time since their 2017 grand final loss, even without All Australian Walker.

“There’s a reason they’re really, really good; it’s because they have a great understanding of what makes them, them,” Hardwick said.

“We’re going to disrupt them as best we can, but on the offset, it’ll give us a chance to score off turnover if we get our game up and going.

“We know the answers before we play … but we’ve got to execute.

“That’s the challenge for our boys and one I’m looking forward to.”