GOLD Coast is backing its midfield to go head-to-head with West Coast's star-studded onball brigade, with coach Stuart Dew adamant the Suns won't "fall into line".
The Suns will host the Eagles at Metricon Stadium on Saturday night in the first of three consecutive clashes at their home ground as part of the Queensland hub.
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The Eagles landed this week in preparation for their month in the state and while the clubs will share training facilities in coming weeks, Dew isn't keen on giving them a warm welcome this weekend.
He said the Suns believe their forward half can challenge the 2018 flag winners, but much will be decided in the midfield, including the ruck contest between Eagles star Nic Naitanui and Gold Coast co-captain Jarrod Witts.
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"Our guys are excited by that, the fact that the majority of those players are premiership midfielders a couple of years ago and obviously Nic coming back into the side and giving good use," Dew said.
"Our midfielders are looking forward to that challenge and not just going out there to fall into line.
"We want to make sure we put it to them and make them work really hard and see if we can get on top in that battle because we also think we have a dangerous forward line that can test them but the midfield's going to have a big bearing on the result."
The Suns will be without star recruit Brandon Ellis for at least round two due to a calf strain but there could be up to four changes to the round one line-up that lost to Port Adelaide.
David Swallow will also miss due to suspension, but Jarrod Harbrow, Alex Sexton (pictured) and Pearce Hanley are available, while the Suns are considering possible debutant Sam Flanders.
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Dew said playing at home offered some assistance for the club at the season restart but shouldn't be seen as a panacea.
"It's familiar to us but I'd never subscribe to an advantage because I don’t think we want to be talking up the home games and then conceding the away games," he said.
"Certainly our language is around delivering where we think our potential is and making sure it's not just potential, it becomes reality.
"Our first three games happen to be here, that's a good thing, but it's not going to get it done for us. We need to make sure we put the pressure on ourselves to deliver."