Eade wary of visiting Bombers
GOLD Coast coach Rodney Eade has stressed the importance of not underestimating an overhauled Essendon line-up.
Taking on the Suns at Metricon Stadium this afternoon, the Bombers will feature 10 new players to the club in the wake of the decision to ban 12 of their players embroiled in the supplements saga.
However, among them is ex-Brisbane ruckman Matthew Leuenberger, as well premiership players James Kelly and Matthew Stokes (Geelong), Jonathan Simpkin (Hawthorn) and Craig Bird (Sydney) and former Fremantle veteran Ryan Crowley.
The Bombers come off a last-start smashing at the hands of West Coast in the NAB Challenge, but Eade was still incredibly wary of the visitors under the coaching of Eagles great John Worsfold.
"I think they'll be okay," Eade told reporters yesterday.
"I think they'll surprise a lot of sides ... we can't afford to be surprised at the weekend.
"I think it's gonna be a tough, tight game."
Eade used the impressive performance of wooden spoon favourite Carlton against Richmond in the season-opener on Thursday, when losing by just 10 points, as an example of a side playing well above expectations.
"I think Essendon have done a terrific job with the players they've been able to bring in - great experience, and nothing beats experience. Players who have played in grand finals and premierships," he said. "They're a proud club."
Tagger Crowley, for one, is expected to provide returning Suns skipper Gary Ablett a torrid time when they renew hostilities. Ablett will play his first game of the year after overcoming a foot injury.
"He's keen to play well, he's keen to lead the side," Eade said.
"He'll expect to be tagged, tagged heavily, but he's coped with that in the past."
Ablett managed just six games last year and while Eade wasn't anticipating the two-time Brownlow Medallist to be at his best, expected him to hit the ground running.
"Last year he had 12 weeks off and had 35-40 possessions (in his first game back). He's certainly got that capability," he said.
"Our expectations aren't that, but if he does deliver that, it's a good result for us."
Fellow star onballer Dion Prestia also returns from a torn lateral meniscus that sidelined him for the majority of 2015.
"He's had two solid weeks of training," Eade said.
Ex-Eagles midfielder Matt Rosa and big-bodied forward Ryan Davis will make their Suns debuts, the latter in place of Peter Wright.
Vice-captain Michael Rischitelli, meanwhile, will play his 200th senior game, 111 of them coming with the Lions.
"He's had a great career, obviously won a best and fairest at Brisbane as well," Eade said.
"He really stood up for us last year when we needed him to ... I think you find out people's character during adversity, and there was a bit last year."