DECORATED Gold Coast defender Nick Malceski has dodged the selection guillotine, saving his spot for round one with a strong showing against Adelaide on Friday night.
Following the 25-point NAB Challenge loss to the Crows, Suns coach Rodney Eade admitted he'd flirted with leaving Malceski out of the opening round against Essendon.
But after 19 mainly polished disposals, the former Sydney Swans premiership star and All Australian has saved his spot.
"I thought he started exceptionally well," Eade said.
"I thought his first half was really good. He attacked the ball, which he did most of the night.
"He was one player under pressure to be in round one, I spoke to him about that, but I thought he grabbed his opportunity tonight. He'll be playing round one."
Malceski is in the second season of a lucrative three-year deal that lured him to the Gold Coast, and had a disappointing 2015, often hampered by a knee problem.
"He's got a lot of pride," Eade said.
"When you talk to an experienced player, the difference between them and a young player is they will grit their teeth and they don't want to let it slip."
Eade was also pleased with first round draft pick Callum Ah Chee, and mature-age rookie Ryan Davis, saying both were likely to play in the season opener.
The duo would make up part of a revamped Suns' forward line, following the off-season departures of Charlie Dixon and Harley Bennell.
Eade said he was no closer to deciding who would partner Tom Lynch though, with both Sam Day and Peter Wright failing to impress.
Adelaide coach Don Pyke said he was still scratching his head over the make-up of the Crows team to play North Melbourne in a fortnight.
He said despite overusing the ball at times, Adelaide had generally improved through the pre-season matches.
"In terms of what we wanted to achieve, I'm confident we've done that," Pyke said.
"We've got a lot of competition for spots, which is pleasing, and we've been able to work on some of the things we've worked on through the nine-week pre-season we had leading into NAB one."
Pyke was pleased with young forward Mitch McGovern, saying he had a "potential look at a spot", while early draft pick Wayne Milera and midfielder Matt Crouch also impressed the Crows' mentor.