West Coast coach Adam Simpson concedes his team got “torched” by Gold Coast last year, and he doesn’t want history to repeat itself in Sunday’s AFL rematch at Optus Stadium.
The Eagles copped a 44-point hammering at the hands of the Suns in round two last year – a result that sparked a run of three straight losses for the 2018 premiers in a disastrous start to their Gold Coast hub.
West Coast managed just one goal after half-time against the Suns, with midfield prodigy Matt Rowell putting the Eagles to the sword on the way to collecting 26 disposals and two goals.
The Suns are set to face a far more difficult task this Sunday on West Coast’s home patch, but Simpson is also well aware that Gold Coast notoriously start the season well.
Gold Coast made 3-1 starts to the season in each of the past two years, and they began 2018 with two straight wins. In 2016, they posted three straight wins to start the year.
“The last four or five years the way Gold Coast have started, they’ve started as good as anyone,” Simpson said.
“We know what happened last year, how we got touched up in the contest, work rate. Pretty much every facet of the game we value we got torched on.
“And it was in the second half as well. It’s a big challenge for us, and I’m sure they’re confident.”
West Coast will be without star midfielders Luke Shuey (hamstring) and Elliot Yeo (osteitis pubis), but Tim Kelly has been cleared to return from a thumb injury.
The Suns are set to welcome back Rowell, who was cut down by a season-ending shoulder injury in round five last year.
Rowell had taken the competition by storm up until that point, with his form so hot that he was even being talked up as a possible Brownlow medal winner in his first year.
The 19-year-old looms as a major weapon as Gold Coast attempt to qualify for finals for the first time in their 11-year history.