Guy McKenna
Guy McKenna

Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna believes his young side will be 'five goals better off' in Saturday night's clash against Richmond in Cairns because the match is not being played at the MCG.

The match will be a Tigers home game, with the club in the second year of a three-season deal that sees them sacrifice one home game per year to take football into far north Queensland.

Last year the arrangement proved costly as the Suns sprung an upset 15-point win that all but ended Richmond's finals hopes.

However, exactly 12 months on and bottom-placed Gold Coast haven't tasted victory since.

The 2012 season hasn't gone according to plan for McKenna, but the second-year coach senses Saturday's re-match at Cazaly's Stadium is an excellent opportunity to break that drought.

"We're happy to play Richmond up here because if we had a choice between Cairns and the MCG - with the Richmond faithful there - I know we're probably five goals better off up here," he said.

"It's our backyard so we're happy to come up here. If we can stabilise some AFL content here it'd be fantastic going forward.

"I know they get howled down about it but to bring AFL football to our country zone is fantastic for us.

"When their contract expires, depending on what they want to do with it, we'd certainly be keen to pick that up because an initiative like this is fantastic for AFL football."

If McKenna's prediction of a five-goal head start is on the money, then don't be surprised if the addition of returning starlet David Swallow adds another one or two goals on top.

The 2010 No.1 draft pick hasn't played since injuring his knee in Round 7, and his coach said he is ready to play a full game - meaning he won't wear the substitute's vest, as assistant Dean Solomon speculated earlier in the week.

"He's right to go. He was probably right to go two weeks ago but we've been conservative," McKenna said.

"If you ask David he'll say he was probably ready a month ago but we wanted to take it nice and easy with him.

"We understand what sort of player he is short-term and long-term for us."

Swallow's injection into the midfield comes after key trio Jarrod Harbrow, Michael Rischitelli and Campbell Brown made their returns in last weekend's narrow loss to Geelong.

"Those three senior boys come in and it adds 300 games of experience to our side, so it has to help," McKenna said.

"Then David Swallow coming in for his first game in eight weeks - when the boys sit around in the locker room prior to walking out, and they see that senior leadership there and young leadership in David Swallow, they're a bit more confident.

"What you get is ball security. You own the footy for longer because there's continuity in possession.

"It showed last week and hopefully another week together and a bit of chemistry and cohesion, we get effort - and who knows what the result will be.

"If we're competitive with the contested football and get it forward more times than them, we give ourselves a good chance of winning."

McKenna said his men were excited to be back at Cazaly's Stadium, but warned last year's result means nothing now.

"They know this is the scene of our last win so they've probably got a spring in their step, but there's no guarantees," he said.


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