Dual premiership-winning coach Malcolm Blight says that former Gold Coast captain Gary Ablett’s return to Geelong may have come as a blessing in disguise to the fast-starting Suns this season.
Gold Coast have won the first two games of the season for only the second time in their history, accounting for North Melbourne is tough conditions in Cairns in Round 1 before a comfortable win over Carlton at Etihad Stadium last weekend.
The Suns’ marked uptick in pressure and tackling has been cited as the key improvement over the summer and contributed to what Blight believes to be a “terrific” start for the long-struggling side, considering that it may have been helped along by the two-time Brownlow Medallist’s exit.
“Gary Ablett Jr is one of my all-time favourite players (but) I just wonder now with their midfield. I thought they might struggle a bit, but what they’re all doing is they’re all chipping in,” the former Gold Coast board member and coaching advisor told SEN’s *Whateley.*
“They have got an even spread through there…They all take the responsibility of five to ten per cent more so they’re giving the forwards more chance.
“If you give a guy like Tom Lynch a chance, you’re going to get some goals kicked on you.”
Blight added: “The others there are not babies. Aaron Hall is 26, Jarryd Lyons, the lad from Adelaide, is 25 and David Swallow is finally going to play his 100th game after all those injuries.
“There is just a nice mix in that midfield, Steven May is a jet down back, you’ve got Tom Lynch up forward and Sam Day back in helps.
“Stuart Dew has obviously got them all singing the same hymn.”
Blight however worries that the club’s tough start to the season, which sees them not play at their home Metricon Stadium until Round 11, will eventually take its toll on the side.
A 10 day stay in Perth will begin this week for the Suns as they host Fremantle at Perth’s Optus Stadium before taking on West Coast at the same venue the next week.
However Blight says that two victories for the Suns in Perth could leave them well poised for a shock top eight tilt in 2018.
“The 11 away games at the start of the season was always going to be their Achilles heel and it still might be,” he said.
“They’re in Perth for the next ten days because they’re playing two games there. Teams have tried this over the years and I think it is 0-28. I think the great Brisbane team might have done it at one stage.
“You live out of a suitcase and live abnormally for 10 days. I get why you’re doing it instead of going backwards and forwards, but I don’t think it has ever worked. It leaves a horrible taste.
“After these next two weeks in Perth, if they can win both of them, look out.”
Gold Coast will host Fremantle this weekend at Optus Stadium as they prepare for a fortnight in Perth.