Suns 'clique' together with King's AFL return

Ben Ainsworth jokes that he's too old to gain membership into one of Gold Coast's most exclusive clubs.

But it's not in a dimly-lit building on the Surfers Paradise strip.

This club will reunite at the newly-named Heritage Bank Stadium in Carrara on Saturday when key forward Ben King returns from a long-term knee injury against Sydney.

The added presence of King, who kicked 47 goals in his 2021 campaign, should create more crumbing opportunities for small forward Ainsworth.

But the 25-year-old cheekily suggested the benefits stop there.

"He's a great bloke and they've got a little clique down here with him, (Jack) Lukosius, (Matt) Rowell, (Charlie) Ballard and (Noah) Anderson," Ainsworth told AAP.

"They're a tight-knit group and (them committing their futures to the club) helps the club go forward."

Ballard was drafted in 2017, Lukosius and King in 2018 while Rowell and Anderson came in 2019 and they have all signed extensions to remain on the Gold Coast.

Ainsworth was the club's top pick and No.4 overall in 2016.

"I'm definitely not part of it, members only," he laughed.

"They share a special bond ... (I'm a) seasoned veteran."

The Suns will play beaten grand finalists Sydney in a straight-up test of legitimacy as they seek a maiden finals appearance.

A 10-12 2022 campaign was full of pluck, they've beaten the Swans in four of six games since Stuart Dew took charge in 2018 and will have one of the AFL's most promising key forwards back on deck.

"It's exciting purely for Kingy and his family for what he's gone through to get back to where he is now," Ainsworth told AAP of King, who missed all of last season with a ruptured ACL.

Dew has chosen height to counter the Swans, adding Joel Jeffrey ahead of the livewire Malcolm Rosas Jnr in addition to key pair Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult.

Dew expects King to be at full speed despite barely playing one half of one preseason game.

"He'll be fine," Dew said.

"He's grown in his preparation and style of play, we expect him to perform and he's the No.1 driver of that."

Brandon Ellis (calf) and Lachie Weller (knee) will both miss the season opener but are nearing fitness after short and long-term injuries respectively.

Academy standout Bodhi Uwland is a surprise selection to debut for the Gold Coast in defence.

The Swans would become just the second beaten grand finalist in seven years to win their opening game if they can trump the Suns.

Tom Hickey and Robbie Fox won't play as they recover from calf complaints, while Essendon recruit Aaron Francis has been included as an emergency.