Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna believes defender Seb Tape is the Suns’ ultimate competitor so he couldn’t have picked a better time to return to the AFL.

Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna hopes his faltering AFL team can draw inspiration from returning defender Seb Tape.

The injury-plagued 22-year-old will make his first start of the season on Saturday against Port Adelaide in a match the Suns cannot afford to drop as they hunt a maiden finals berth.

Last weekend’s disappointing loss to Carlton continued a worrying trend for the Suns, with their contested possessions dropping following captain Gary Ablett’s season-ending shoulder injury.

Only premiership contenders Sydney (149.4) and Hawthorn (145.5) average more contested footy this year than the Suns (145.1) but McKenna’s men have been unable to meet that average in the four matches since Ablett’s injury.

Against the Blues, the Suns only picked up 124 contested possessions in a thoroughly underwhelming display.

McKenna says Tape, who hasn’t played since round 16 last year, is a player who leaves nothing behind and he’s hopeful the inclusion will spark those around him.

“Our numbers say we win the contested ball we win the game, simple as that,” McKenna said on Friday.

“In the last month, probably the last eight weeks, 10 weeks, when we’ve lost that count, we’ve lost the game.

“Seb Tape, for every game he’s played for the Gold Coast Suns, I don’t think he’s been best on ground in any of them but he finds a way to win.

“I can guarantee his opponent won’t beat him … he mightn’t be the quickest, he mightn’t be the most talented but if you picked up the Gold Coast dictionary of competitor, I reckon if most guys shut their eyes, they’d think of him.”

The Suns, with two wins from their past five matches, are actually travelling better at the moment than the fifth-placed Power.

After running at the top of the ladder in the early weeks of the season, Port have lost four of their past five matches to drop out of the top four.

McKenna says Ken Hinkley’s men actually beat Sydney in contested possessions in last weekend’s 26-point loss to the Swans.

With heavy rain forecast for southeast Queensland over the weekend, McKenna said making sure the Suns match the Power when it comes to contested possessions will be vital.

“Port Adelaide did a really good job of beating Sydney in the contested possessions, didn’t win the game, (but) you should be under no illusions what is going to win this game for us against Port tomorrow and that’s winning that stat, and that stat alone,” he said.


Gold Coast’s contested possessions in past five matches (opposition in brackets)

v Western Bulldogs 141 (167) loss

v Brisbane 143 (165) loss

v St Kilda 140 (124) win

v Carlton 124 (145) loss

* Season average 145.1 per game. Third in the league

* Gary Ablett leads league in individual contested possessions with 32.1 per game

* Gold Coast’s next best is Dion Prestia with 27 per game.