Suns’ wingman finds positives despite team’s growing injury list

OPTIMISTIC SUN: Gold Coast Suns player Matt Shaw said the team remains positive despite a string of injuries that have decimated their playing stocks.
OPTIMISTIC SUN: Gold Coast Suns player Matt Shaw said the team remains positive despite a string of injuries that have decimated their playing stocks. MATT ROBERTS

WINGMAN Matt Shaw optimises the glass-half-full kind of attitude the Gold Coast will be forced to take into the last few rounds of 2016 season.

Ahead of their clash with the Bulldogs in Cairns tonight, the Suns' midfield has been decimated - again - with Dion Prestia (knee) now joining skipper Gary Ablett (shoulder) and vice-captain Michael Rischitelli (knee) out of the side that beat the Lions last week.

That star trio joins the experienced Matt Rosa (hamstring) and young guns Jaeger O'Meara (knee) and David Swallow (knee), who are both on the comeback trail, on the sidelines.

Shaw, one of the original Suns, but who has never been able to become a permanent fixture in the senior side, can see positives in the club's situation.

"It creates opportunities for guys," he tells Australian Regional Media. "It's given me my opportunity.

"With Gazza and Risch going out it's going to give a couple of other boys a chance to stick their hands up."

Following Shaw's own reinstatement to the team three weeks ago, strong-bodied pair Mitch Hallahan and Jesse Lonergan have been welcomed back.

Shaw is not taking his opportunity for granted however, with coach Rodney Eade imploring his players to maintain a high level of effort otherwise they will be back in the twos regardless of that extended injury list.

"In Rocket(Eade)'s team you've never cemented your spot," Shaw said.

"You've got to keep performing week in, week out and keep bringing that effort he talks about all the time or you'll get the boot pretty quick.

"Rocket's spoken about being consistent with those ground-ball efforts and things like that - that's the thing that's going to keep me in the side."

Shaw has responded with 19 and 20 possessions, respectively in the Suns' back-to-back wins over St Kilda and the Lions.

"It's great to be singing that song again, especially not playing the first seven rounds of the season and watching the boys win those first few rounds

"I'm really looking forward to this back half of the season and getting a few more wins

"The boys are definitely heading in the right direction over the last few weeks, bringing some good pressure to the opposition."

Shaw admits taking on the fourth-placed Bulldogs will be a challenge. With a ball hungry midfield, the Dogs are No.1 for disposals.

"They've got some really good hard-running midfelders, and they love to get numbers to the footy, so it will be a great test for the boys," he said.

"We've just got to stick to the game plans we've been working on, bringing that pressure and heat to them."

While Ablett won't play again this season, Shaw is adamant he will still have a big role once he has surgery on his shoulder.

"Gaz is one of the greatest players of all time," he said. "We love him around the club.

"He's really good at developing the young boys, showing them the right direction to head, because he's obviously done it himself."

Topics:  afl aussie rules gold coast gold coast suns sport

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