Jack Lukosius spoils Brent Daniels during round four, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

JACK Lukosius and Sam Flanders look set for an extended run in defence as Gold Coast coach Damien Hardwick found plenty of positives in his side's loss to Greater Western Sydney on Sunday.

A young Suns side featuring three debutants pushed the unbeaten Giants all the way at Mount Barker and were only blown away when the more experienced GWS side lifted in the final quarter.


Flanders (29 disposals) and Lukosius (22) were among the Suns in defence and having played multiple positions across their careers, Hardwick has pinpointed the two as the players to give the Suns some drive off half-back this season.

"I thought he was probably one of the best players on the ground," Hardwick said of Flanders.

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"Every time he got the ball, we used it really well. He just controlled that half-back line. We've known for a while that that's the game style we want to play ... I thought he was terrific today in a first-up game and for him to have the output he did was wonderful.

When asked if the move of Flanders down back would be permanent, Hardwick replied: "Would you move him? No, neither would I."


On Lukosius, who kicked 39 goals as a forward last year, Hardwick said: "He's provided great output as a forward, but I love him down back because he can win the ball first and foremost and then he can distribute as well. He did some really good things today; he'll build on that and learn the system that we're trying to implement. It's a tough ask when you've played just over two weeks (in defence).

"He is (a beautiful field kick). Once he has that chemistry and connection with the remainder of the backs, I think he's only going to get better."


Hardwick made seven changes from a last-start beating, blooding three debutants in Sam Clohesy, Ethan Read and Will Graham. Clohesy (22 disposals) and Read kicked their first AFL goals, as did second-gamer Jed Walter, while Graham was composed with 17 touches.

"They looked really good at various stages," Hardwick said.

"Sam was outstanding on the wing and Will Graham looked very composed and poised and tough. And Ethan Read, for a key position player, together with Jed Walter ... they will get great learnings out of playing against guys like Sammy Taylor and (Harry) Himmelberg."

Twenty-two gamer Mac Andrew also produced a fine game in defence, collecting 10 marks and 24 disposals.


While the Suns (2-2) have now lost consecutive matches, Adam Kingsley's Giants are top after a fourth successive victory.

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"We have got tremendous belief in the way that we play and the people that we have," Kingsley said.

"Four and zero is a great start but we're under no illusions that there's still five months of footy left.


"We need to continue to build and grow, improve our game.

"We're going to be challenged at different times throughout the season, as we know, and we've got a lot of work to get to where we want to be."