Suns’ run on show in Hardwick system: Witts

Murray Wenzel |

Jarrod Witts (left) helped the relentless Suns to a six-point victory over Adelaide in round one.
Jarrod Witts (left) helped the relentless Suns to a six-point victory over Adelaide in round one.

Gold Coast’s finely tuned running power can be the club’s greatest strength under Damien Hardwick, Jarrod Witts says.

The Suns are 2-0 ahead of Sunday’s Ballarat AFL clash with Western Bulldogs after beginning the Hardwick reign with wins against Richmond and Adelaide.

Crows coach Matthew Nicks said the Suns’ work-rate and scramble was “as good as I’ve seen for a while in that space” after his men were outplayed in the first three quarters on Saturday night.

Ruckman and co-captain Witts said the Suns’ brutal pre-seasons in the Queensland heat were starting to pay dividends, and that new coach Hardwick’s approach would make the most of the team’s conditioning.

“Working from contest to contest is a strength of ours. We have a lot of fit guys in our team and that game plan is going to play into that,” he told AAP.

“As the game goes on it’s something we really believe in, and a real strength is our running power.

“It’s been a work in progress over the last few years – building the bodies up to work across the ground – a big part of what we do.”

In both games this season the Suns have built comfortable leads only to allow their opponents back into the contest.

Hardwick didn’t think there was an issue with the team’s mentality, attributing those swings to a lack of “situational training” to cope with desperate opponents.

But Witts said it was a theme that needed addressing.

“There’s a lot of moving parts and we’ll review it now because it has happened in the last couple of weeks,” he said.

“We’d like to shut it down and play it in our forward half but our backs, under the pump in the last five minutes, stood up well.”

The Suns have not played finals in their 13 seasons but are no strangers to strong starts, boasting a 3-1 record in 2020 and 2019, a 2-0 start in 2018 and a 3-0 start in 2016.

They went on to win no more than six games in any of those campaigns.

Witts arrived from Collingwood in 2017 and isn’t getting carried away with Gold Coast’s encouraging start.

“It was really important that we started well to build the belief in what we’ve been doing for five months,” he said.

“Naturally, when you make significant changes, sometimes they can take time to gel. 

“But you don’t want to put timelines on it – if it happens quickly, then that’s great.

“We’re really starting to understand the way we want to play and are implementing it for long periods of  time.”