Nick Malceski has played himself into Gold Coast’s AFL round one team after a quality display against Adelaide that has convinced coach Rodney Eade not to drop the veteran defender.
The Suns lost by 25 points to the Crows in Friday night’s final NAB Challenge clash at Metricon Stadium, but Malceski’s performance was one of several positives the expansion outfit can draw as they turn their attention to their season opener against Essendon.
Malceski, a former All-Australian and premiership player for Sydney, gathered 19 touches and was an assured presence for Gold Coast, particularly in the early stages of the match.
The 31-year-old joined the Suns last year but never had the impact he was widely expected to have on the side, largely due to an ongoing knee problem.
Eade said Malceski was “under pressure” after a poor game in Gold Coast’s first NAB Challenge outing, but felt compelled to pick him after watching him against the Crows.
“I thought he started exceptionally well,” Eade said.
“I thought his first half was really good. He attacked the ball, which he did most of the night. He had a flat patch in the third quarter.
“His pre-season has been really impressive. His form NAB round one was below par, to be honest.
“He was one player under pressure to be in round one, I spoke to him about that, but I thought he grabbed his opportunity tonight.
“He’ll be playing round one.”
Eade suggested Malceski, who has two years remaining on his contract, is a player with a strong point to prove on the back of his underwhelming debut season on the tourist strip.
“He’s got a lot of pride,” he said.
“When you talk to an experienced player, the difference between them and a young player is they will grit their teeth and they don’t want to let it slip.”
The Suns face the Bombers at Metricon Stadium on March 26.