Rodney Eade didn’t sign up for this.
He was supposed to be fine-tuning a young, talented team that appeared poised to throw open their AFL premiership window.
Instead, the Gold Coast coach finds himself with quite literally “no midfield” due to injuries and with his best key forward sidelined due to a failure to comprehend a simple ban on alcohol.
The former is nobody’s fault but the latter issue which resulted in Charlie Dixon and injured rookie Jack Martin handed one-week suspensions for breaking a player-enforced moratorium on drinking, is indicative of how much work lies ahead for the Suns who face Sydney at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
“I was spoken to when I got the job about some areas that needed to improve and build on,” Eade said.
“The alcohol’s part of that, but it’s the standards of being an AFL professional player.
“It’s so difficult.
“Most of the guys are responding and there’s some speed humps on the way.
“It’s certainly thrown some curve balls.”
Second from bottom with just one win in nine weeks, things don’t get any better for the Suns as they prepare to face the third-placed Swans this weekend – and then ladder-leaders Fremantle the week after.
If their on-ball problems weren’t already bad enough with the ongoing absences of Gary Ablett, Dion Prestia, Jaeger O’Meara and David Swallow, livewire Harley Bennell (calf) and Matt Shaw (illness) were ruled out early on Friday.
Eade said he may have no choice but to instruct his men to play “ugly” against the Swans.
“I think the biggest area, apart from our inexperience, is going to be our run,” he said.
“We’ve got no midfield really.
“You’re just really going to struggle.
“We just can’t afford to play ping-pong footy up and back, transition footy, because not having a midfield you’re going to get smashed in that area.
“And the fact Sydney are probably one of the best running sides in the competition, we’ll have to be mindful of that.
“We’ll have to do some things differently and try and make it into an ugly game.”