Izak Rankine looks on during the R12 match between Adelaide and Gold Coast at TIO Stadium on June 3, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

IZAK Rankine will return to play at the Gold Coast on Saturday night for the first time since he set sail for Adelaide 18 months ago - but don't expect the Suns to roll out the red carpet.

Since Gold Coast began its rebuild under Stuart Dew six years ago, Rankine's departure to the Crows hurt more than most.

And for full-back and vice-captain Sam Collins, it still stings.

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Collins became firm friends with the former No.3 draft pick during his four seasons at Carrara, sharing a house with the South Australian as he adjusted to life in a different state.

Rankine played the Suns in Darwin last year, but Saturday night will be the first time playing back at his old club when he runs on to People First Stadium.


"When he left, I was really disappointed and I felt like he owed the club a lot," Collins told AFL.com.au.

"When he plays the Gold Coast Suns, I want him to know he's coming for a really hard battle and a really hard game.

"I don't think he needs any extra attention.

"His form, his talent, it demands that anyway, but I certainly hope … when he plays the Gold Coast Suns he knows he's in for a tough day."

Collins said deep down it still hurt him Rankine opted to leave.

The 23-year-old had a terrific final season with Gold Coast after injuries curtailed his development early in his career.

He then carried that on to the Crows last year, kicking 36 goals from 20 games.

"I hope it's challenging for him," Collins said.

"We saw great faith from 'Kingy' [Ben King] and 'Luko' [ (who were drafted in the same year as Rankine and are contracted until 2026) and we see what we're building and to not have him (hurts).

"The club did a lot for 'Ranks' in his time here. It was definitely disappointing that he left.

"If he could not perform against the Gold Coast Suns and we can lock him down and do our job I'd be a happy man."