Suns defender Trent McKenzie says Gold Coast can’t afford any repeats of their last two AFL losses when they play St Kilda.
A wilting Gold Coast will go back to basics to revive their AFL finals hopes against St Kilda on Saturday night.
Feeling the loss of captain Gary Ablett far more than expected, the Suns’ shot at an historic September appearance has been derailed by upset losses to the Western Bulldogs and Brisbane Lions.
Last week at the Gabba, they had a mere 36 possessions in the first quarter as the 17th-placed Lions embarrassed them by continually winning the contested footy.
Coach Guy McKenna has denied Ablett’s loss is playing on the minds of his young side but admitted their bodies are “creaking” after 17 matches.
Level with Collingwood and Adelaide on 36 points, but sporting an inferior percentage, the 10th-placed Suns simply need to win at Metricon Stadium to stay in the finals hunt.
“We’ve brought it right back to basics,” said returning defender Trent McKenzie. “We’re going to start from the first quarter and the first contest we’re involved in and just go from there.
“We can’t afford any losses like we’ve had in the last two weeks.
“We’ve gone away from the contested footy, which is where we’ve been good all year, top five or so, so if we can get back to that, start winning some clearances and start feeding our tall forwards, that’d be a good start.”
Not only do the Coast also have to overcome the losses of power forward Charlie Dixon (quad) and ruckman Zac Smith (ankle), they face a confident Saints outfit which shocked Fremantle in their last start.
“We’ll expect nothing less from them,” McKenzie said. “They’ll come out firing, they’re going to want to beat us.
“They know we’ve been down a bit and will want to keep that going.”
Saints coach Alan Richardson is also set to have club champion defender Jack Steven back despite a lingering thigh injury.
Richardson on Friday admitted Steven would not be completely free of the stress reaction problem until he could rest at season’s end, when they can work out the best remedy.
“At this stage, we’re really comfortable and confident he’ll get through the remainder of the season without any further damage to it,” he said.