Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade has officially put the Suns on notice, saying he opted to make a statement by dropping defender Trent McKenzie for Saturday’s AFL clash with St Kilda.
McKenzie was the major casualty from the Suns’ underwhelming 26-point loss to Melbourne last weekend, with the 23-year-old’s poor display costing him his place in the line-up.
Eade also omitted tall Dan Gorringe while Matt Shaw was suspended, but it’s 77-gamer McKenzie whom he feels was the player left with the most to prove after the loss to the Demons.
“There was a few players that we spoke to about their effort, Trent was one,” Eade said.
“I suppose it’s easier always to drop kids but Trent’s had a more down pre-season than up, and his form wasn’t great on the weekend so we decided to keep the younger guys in and make a statement with Trent.
“He’s certainly been told what he needs to work on, what he needs to do, to get back in.”
Eade said “a few” players had said they went into the Demons expecting to win while others believed returning skipper Gary Ablett would secure the points.
The veteran coach said those admissions were surprising but was hoping the additions of tall forward Tom Lynch as well as Seb Tape and Sean Lemmens would add extra competitiveness against the Saints.
“We’ve got to get some hard work on board,” he said.
“The three players we’ve brought in are all competitors. Tom Lynch was a given, but young Sean Lemmens and Seb Tape are just competitors and we’ve got to get that first.
“You’ve got to get the non-negotiable right. You can have all the game plans and tactics and whatever you want to do but if you don’t get the effort as a baseline, you’re not going to succeed.”
Eade confirmed Ablett would be fit to make his second start following last year’s season-ending shoulder injury, despite appearing to struggle with his left arm against the Demons.
St Kilda have made two changes from the team, which lost narrowly to Greater Western Sydney last weekend. Jack Billings and Tom Curren came in for injured Leigh Montagna (knee) and Eli Templeton.
Eade said he had seen enough in St Kilda’s performance against the Giants to know they would again be an opponent that couldn’t be underestimated.
“Especially with a player like Nick Riewoldt in their side and they’ve got some good young ‘uns as well,” he said.