RODNEY Eade has accused Gold Coast players of cruising and says dropping defender Trent McKenzie is a statement that he won't stand for it any longer.
McKenzie was the biggest name among the Suns' three omissions for Saturday night's match against St Kilda, following last week's 26-point loss to Melbourne.
With 77 games, the left-footed defender has been a regular since the club's inception and trails only Jarrod Harbrow (79) for appearances.
But just one week after omitting small forward Brandon Matera, Suns coach Eade said McKenzie had given him little choice.
"It's always easier to drop kids, but Trent has had a more down pre-season than up, his form wasn't great at the weekend, so it was keep the younger guys in and make a statement with Trent," Eade said.
"He's certainly been told what he needs to work on and needs to do to get back in.
"Maybe a few of them who have been around a while, probably cruise a bit … the three players we've brought in (Tom Lynch from suspension, Seb Tape and Sean Lemmens) are competitors.
"We've got to get the non-negotiables right. You can have the game plans and tactics, but if you don't get effort as a baseline, you're not going to succeed."
Following a scathing fallout from last weekend's loss, Eade dropped another surprise, saying his players took the Demons lightly.
"A few have said they probably went to the game expecting they were going to win and that's always dangerous," he said.
"In the past Gaz would get us over the line. We've got to get rid of that mentality.
"You'd like to think that there'd be some response from the effort last week."
Eade wasn't finished there, wanting to clarify comments surrounding his expectations of Gold Coast playing finals in coming years.
Speaking on Channel Seven last Sunday, the former Swans and Bulldogs mentor was quoted as saying the Suns were "a couple of years away" from playing finals.
"What was the question? Deep into finals, so you can finish eighth this year and you don't go deep into finals," he said.
"Perhaps my comments maybe get blown out of proportion. To play deep into finals, and when I say a couple of years, that's next year, but that's the case.
"Having said that, our expectations are, there's no ceiling on it.
"I think, as happens, some people cut and paste and drop a little bit off at the front and a little bit off at the back of the comment and put it in and make a headline. It didn't worry me, I've been through that before."