New chums to face AFL stars

GOLD Coast will be relieved to get back to playing football after a week in which they unveiled rugby league convert Karmichael Hunt.

It will be interesting to see how the players will respond after a week in which all of their training sessions have been accompanied by a lot of media coverage, as they head to Melbourne to take on the Carlton-affiliated Northern Bullants (eighth, three wins, four losses).

Coach Guy McKenna said his squad had negotiated the intense week of media scrutiny accompanying the arrival of his highest profile recruit quite well.

“The boys knew (Hunt) was on his way, so it hasn’t changed our focus,” he said. “Everything else has stayed the same. We’ve still had a game to prepare for.”

On the field, Gold Coast (10th, 1-5 one draw) have made five changes to the side that was again gallant in defeat against Collingwood.

Out of the side are Roland Ah Chee, Rex Liddy and David Swallow (rested), Jack Hutchins (hamstring) and Charlie Dixon (suspended). Back into the side are Joey Daye, Maverick Weller, Trent McKenzie and Alik Magin, along with debutant Damien Steven.

McKenna said last week’s game against Collingwood had left a few of his players leg weary. “It was hard going last week and a few of the boys pulled up a bit sore but we expect everyone to be fine by Saturday,” he said.

The Northern Bullants will represent another tough challenge, with a number of Carlton players to feature. Players of the calibre of Brock McLean, Robert Warnock, Lachie Henderson, Shaun Grigg, Simon Wiggins, Brad Fisher and Shaun Hampson will be eager to impress and force their way back into the Blues side.

McKenna said the Bullants represented another tough challenge. “They’re another (AFL club) aligned side and are travelling well,” he said.

The 1pm match is at Visy Park (formerly Princess Park) today.

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