Hunt an assuring presence for McKenna - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hunt an assuring presence for McKenna

Chris Pike 28/02/2011 03:48:55 PM Comments (0)

Gold Coast Suns coach Guy McKenna has all but pencilled in Karmichael Hunt for his AFL debut in round two, based on his pre-season performances so far.

However, the Suns will again be without superstar captain Gary Ablett this weekend against Sydney.

Hunt, the former rugby league star, had a good battle with young Eagle Nic Naitanui on Sunday and while he might not have been a standout performer, his coach was happy enough with him to say that he's just about guaranteed to play in Gold Coast's season-proper opener against Carlton.

"The way we had structured up and the way they were rebounding off half back, he could have been Steve Silvagni or Gary Pert down there and it wouldn't have mattered," McKenna said.

"The ball wasn't coming in on K's terms, but over the night it was a 50-50 result.

"He certainly wasn't our worst player and around the middle range of our better players.

"If he keeps performing like that and stopping his man, he is a big chance to play Round 2, that's for sure."

The Suns might have lost their pre-season cup quarter-final to West Coast in Perth on Sunday by 37 points, but put in an encouraging performance despite missing Ablett, Jared Brennan, Nathan Bock, Josh Fraser, Campbell Brown and Daniel Harris.

All except Ablett and Brennan look likely to play Sydney at Southport on Saturday and McKenna isn't worried that his captain has had a limited preparation heading into the season.

"Most of those senior boys will play next week. Nathan Bock hasn't had a run so will be right to play, I think Gary will probably miss so he won't play next week, Jared Brennan probably won't play next week and Josh Fraser and Daniel Harris are both available," McKenna said.

"Gary probably doesn't need a great deal of touch, but it's just about getting the miles in his legs.

"He was keen to play the Sydney game, but stepped on the pedal too far and got sore.

"That set him back a week or two, but he will still have a good five weeks going into Round 2."

In such a young side on Sunday, plenty of new players impressed McKenna, including Sam Day, Seb Tape who had a team-high 20 possessions and Dan Gorringe in the ruck up against Dean Cox and Naitanui.

"Sammy Day took a leave of absence prior to Christmas due to family commitments. That held his pre-season back a bit, but he's going to be a very good player for us. We know that and for him to get through the game time that he did was fantastic," he said.

"The other South Australian Sebby Tape was great. He played on Adam Goodes last week and he's backed it up again.

"That's another challenge for all the young guys, to be able to back up. Getting that consistency comes with experience and age.

"I know that the actual hit outs don't look favourable, but Dan Gorringe fought on against a 15-time All Australian (Cox) and one of the most exciting talents going around in the ruck (Naitanui), so I thought he threw his hand up."

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