Rookie gun ‘absolutely ready’ for return
Gold Coast young gun Matt Rowell is fitter now than he was at the end of pre-season and primed to make his AFL return.
The former No.1 draft pick has been sidelined since the opening round with a knee injury, having played only five games in 2020 after a serious shoulder injury blunted a stunning start to his career
But Suns coach Stuart Dew revealed Rowell was “absolutely ready” to make his return to football, which is almost certain to be against Fremantle at Optus Stadium on Saturday.
Dew said there was no need to be cautious with the 19-year-old’s comeback given how much work he had put into his body.
“He’s ready. He’s absolutely ready,” Dew said on Wednesday.
“Physically, his body is better prepared than what it was leading into round 1 because he’s essentially had another pre-season.
“Once he was out of the (knee) brace, he’s done a lot of work in the weights room and on his running and getting the rest of his body better prepared.
“In some sense he’s probably fitter than what he was leading into the season.”
The stars have aligned for the @GoldCoastSuns to break their habit of fading at the end of the season. Matt Rowell headlines a trio of top players set to return from injury for their clash against Fremantle. https://t.co/[email protected]#7AFL#7NEWSpic.twitter.com/Swfye5Uhwi
Rowell is one of three players pushing to come back into the team from injury to face the Dockers, with Sam Day (knee) and Jack Bowes (hamstring) also in contention.
With their returns the Suns could, remarkably given the injury carnage this season, have has as few as four players only on their injury list heading into the second half of the season.
It’s the perfect scenario for Dew, who knows his team has to address an issue of fade-outs.
Last year the Suns won just one of their final 10 games after losing 18 in a row in 2019. In 11 seasons in the AFL, the Suns’ best return from the final 10 games has been three wins.
But Dew said the playing group he had now was more ready to handle the full load of an AFL season.
“Physically, they’re more mature – mentally as well – a little bit more seasoned, bit more hardened,” Dew said of his group.
“We feel like we have grown our depth through this period because with four or five long-term injuries, that’s another four or five players that have played six to eight games.
“We think that to run the year out, there’s some guys coming back in that are going to be fresh, that have missed a lot of footy, and then there’s some guys that have had good exposure.
“It’s just the lived experiences together and we’ve had a greater number of players go through it.”
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