It’s kid steps just now but Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna predicts his Suns and Greater Western Sydney will own the AFL’s next great rivalry.
McKenna firmly believes the expansion race between Gold Coast and GWS will lead to their duel replacing Hawthorn-Geelong as the game’s most captivating contest.
The two fledgling clubs will meet for just the fifth time at Metricon Stadium on Saturday with the Suns warmly favoured to extend their record to 4-1.
McKenna on Friday dismissed the Suns’ Q-Clash derby with the battling Brisbane Lions and trumpeted the Giants as their natural arch-rivals.
And it’s a next-generation rivalry that he expects will take the entire competition by storm.
With both clubs basically reaping the best kids from the 2010-12 drafts, the parallel development of those young guns will heighten both the interest and their premiership ambitions.
“The match-ups, instead of one or two in a rivalry like Hawthorn and Geelong have, we’ll probably have 10 to 12 throughout the course of the next 10 years,” McKenna said.
The former West Coast premiership defender cited the decade-long battle between Eagle Glen Jakovich and North Melbourne’s Wayne Carey as an enduring individual contest which should be repeated.
“You just knew that Jakovich-Carey match-up would be there for 10-15 years,” he said.
“And clearly with the two expansion clubs, there’s Rory Thompson v Jeremy Cameron and, down the other end, it’s (Jonathan) Patton and (Steven) May and the list goes on and on in the midfield.”
The Suns were the Giants’ first scalp in a memorable 2012 upset although Gold Coast dominated their last meeting, winning by 83 points in Kevin Sheedy’s last game as coach.
But with the recruitment of Heath Shaw, Josh Hunt and the sidelined Shane Mumford, the Giants have flexed some muscle to make a big leap forward.
McKenna believes the intensity and hunger of a deepening rivalry will be there to see at Carrara.
“We give them the best chance of getting a kill too because we are only 12 months ahead of them,” he said.
“We were stung by that early defeat by them and … want to make sure that never happens again.”
In added good signs for the eighth-placed Suns, influential duo Harley Bennell (calf) and Charlie Dixon (groin) will return for the reserves this weekend.