Gold Coast forward Tom Lynch has declared the rising Suns a different team in 2014, one that can cope without Gary Ablett.
They’re love-six without Gary Ablett but the Gold Coast Suns strenuously deny they are a one-man band.
And they’re promising to show it against a fired-up Brisbane Lions in Saturday’s QClash at the Gabba.
The sidelined Ablett has missed only six matches in his four seasons on the Coast, all of which have been losses.
Four came in their first two seasons when they were relative whipping boys.
But the rising expansion club showed how influential and irreplaceable their captain is with a last-start upset loss to Western Bulldogs to fall out of the top eight.
With a maiden finals appearance on the line and Ablett gone for the season, the Suns must shake the monkey off their back in the intense local derby.
Gold Coast also lost to a struggling Brisbane at the Gabba last year when the Brownlow Medallist missed his only match of 2013 with a calf problem.
But forward targets Tom Lynch and Charlie Dixon stressed on Wednesday they are now a different team – shown by this month’s close win over the Magpies after Ablett dislocated his shoulder.
“Gary’s one of those players that can turn a game on its head by himself, but we showed in that last half against Collingwood we could hold on and beat the Pies,” Dixon said at Metricon Stadium.
“He’s a very valuable player for us, but I think we’ve got enough players to win.”
Lynch quickly interjected: “I think we’re a different side to when he’s missed previously as well.
“I think we’ve improved a lot and can cover him a lot better this time around.
“It’s an important game for us to get back on the right path and playing some good footy. We’re all looking forward to this.”
Dion Prestia will lead Gold Coast in Ablett’s absence while the Suns are also defensively vulnerable with Kade Kolodjashnij and Trent McKenzie unavailable and Tom Murphy suspended.
Lynch stressed the Suns had learned their lessons from the Bulldogs’ loss and wouldn’t fall into the same trap of playing conservatively against the Lions.
“We were a bit off in the contested ball and looked a bit slow,” he said.
“We played within ourselves going for those hard kicks so we’ve addressed that in the last week or two and will play quicker and more exciting footy this week.”