AFTER turning heads for his ability to run and break the lines in his debut season, Gold Coast defender Adam Saad wants to be known for far more in 2016.
Saad shocked many – both inside the club and out – when he burst off the rookie list in 2015 to play 16 games and finish seventh in the NAB Rising Star award.
His electric pace quickly became his calling card, loving to play on and take bounces from the defensive 50 to set the Suns' attack alight. Only Heath Shaw took more running bounces in the entire competition last year.
Saad wants to keep the flair this season, but a plethora of work with assistant coaches Andy Lovell and Max Rooke has him primed to also lock down as a defender.
"I've learnt so much this pre-season and I'm looking forward to implementing it in games and defending well this year," Saad told AFL.com.au.
"The way I played was more offensive but I've learnt a lot from guys like (Jarrod) Harbrow and (Nick) Malceski and Steven May about being more well rounded, having defence as my foundation and attacking from that."
Saad has taken one-on-one tutelage from Lovell and Rooke and has pored over hours of footage from last season to see where he could improve.
Coach Rodney Eade gives him a licence to attack, but Saad is also up for any challenge, and if that means taking on the competition's elite forwards, that's fine with him.
"It's up to the coaches if they want me to play on the dangerous small forwards," he said.
"I've played on Cyril Rioli, (Paul) Puopolo, (Hayden) Ballantyne – you learn so much from those games.
"I'm up for any challenge, whatever 'Rocket' gives me.
"If I play on the best small forwards in the game, I'm not really fussed, I'll take the challenge and I'll challenge them the other way as well when I get it, just take them on and see if they can chase and defend.
"If you defend well and if you're just hanging back and happy stopping him, well, you've got to hurt him the other way, and if they're not chasing, it hurts their team and gives us a boost."
Aside from a rolled ankle that has recently cost him a week, Saad has had a strong pre-season after recovering from hip surgery late last season.
He will play Gold Coast's NAB Challenge match against West Coast in Perth next Wednesday after missing the first-up win over the Brisbane Lions.