Port AFL challenge excites new-look Suns

Ed Jackson
Matt Rowell will make his AFL debut for Gold Coast against Port Adelaide on Saturday

Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew is confident his new-look team hasn't lost any of the momentum from their impressive pre-season heading into Saturday's AFL season opener.

The Suns begin their 2020 season against Port Adelaide at a locked-out Metricon Stadium.

Dew has handed debuts to top-two draftees Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson as well as academy product Connor Budarick, while ex-Richmond premiership player Brandon Ellis and former Adelaide defender Hugh Greenwood will also make their first appearances for the Suns.

All five were heavily involved in the Suns' two pre-season wins over Geelong and the Crows, and Dew expects the ongoing uncertainty over the season due to the coronavirus pandemic to have had little impact on his team's confidence.

"We've been able to keep that momentum going ... they were unanimous in wanting to play and for all the right reasons," he said.

"That's been the main thing. We've had good competition for spots in selection and I think that's added to that energy around training and quality and that."

Port also have the air of a team on the up and have selected forward Mitch Georgiades for his AFL debut after an impressive pre-season.

Ex-Sun Charlie Dixon won't play due to an adductor strain but Dew has no doubt the Power will be strong first up opposition for his team, who are on an 18-game losing streak stretching back to round five last year.

"They've got some serious A-graders going through their line-up and we will make sure that we give them full respect," Dew said.

"We know it's going to be a massive challenge for us but one we're looking forward to."

The Power have won their past 10 matches against the Suns after becoming the expansion club's first victim way back in round five 2011.

"Both sides have had good form through the pre-season, which means it will be a very good game," Power coach Ken Hinkley said.

"The speed that they move the ball with and the speed that they hunt the opposition is a real challenge for us.

"We just need to make sure we are up for it."