Sam Collins and Jarrod Witts during Gold Coast's training session at Austworld Centre Oval on February 27, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

GOLD Coast co-captain Jarrod Witts will miss Sunday's game against Essendon with a hamstring injury.

Witts watched the Suns' main session on Friday from the boundary line and has been ruled out.

He will be replaced by Ned Moyle.

Suns co-captain Sam Collins also watched on during Friday's session, but the club is confident he will retain his place to face the Bombers.

Witts was rested against Geelong two weeks ago and returned to face the Blues last Saturday.

Jarrod Witts marks the ball under pressure from Harry McKay during the match between Carlton and Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium in round 11, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Following Sunday's match against Essendon, Gold Coast faces St Kilda in Melbourne and then has the bye.

Although his team has lost one of its most influential players, one thing Damien Hardwick is pleased with is the new holding-the-ball interpretation, although Gold Coast's coach believes it could require an adjustment period for his midfield ace Matt Rowell.

The AFL clarified its definition of "reasonable time" to dispose of the ball during the week following questions around player safety in the tackle.

Hardwick raised the issue following his team's loss to Carlton last Saturday.

Speaking on Friday morning before Gold Coast's session, Hardwick agreed it would impact Rowell's game, with the 22-year-old's love of taking on tacklers.

"One thing 'Rowelly' does really well is he does try to move the ball on," Hardwick said.

"He has great strength around the contest, and he’ll adjust, and we’ll train him accordingly. 

"He knows now the time has been shortened. 

"It will be a little bit of suck it and see with regard to how it goes, and he’ll learn as the time progresses, but we still think he’ll be a real dominant player."

Matt Rowell handballs whilst being tackled by Patrick Cripps during the match between Carlton and Gold Coast at Marvel Stadium in round 11, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Hardwick said he liked the first look of the new interpretation on Thursday night, with umpires blowing the whistle sooner to either award a free kick or throw the ball up when a player was tackled.

Rowell has been in fantastic form this season, entering round 12 with the second most clearances and contested possessions in the competition.


However, like his midfield teammates, he is coming off a quiet outing against the Blues, and Hardwick expects a response this weekend.

"Well, we would hope so," Hardwick said, when questioned on the improvement he expected from his midfield.

"They’re a very proud group.

"It's not often our midfield gets beaten like it did. I thought they (Carlton) were harder, bigger, stronger in and around the contest. 

"It’s up to me to prepare the guys better. To get them mentally and physically prepared how we want the game to be played."