WHILE his younger teammates take the fanfare, Jack Bowes is proving a huge reason why Gold Coast has shot to prominence in 2020.
After training with the midfield throughout the entire pre-season, Bowes was thrown a curveball on the eve of round one, thrust into the defensive unit to cover for injuries to regulars Jarrod Harbrow and Pearce Hanley.
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The 22-year-old has made every post a winner.
Bowes is doing much more than the cliched "playing his role", stifling opposition forwards and helping to launch Suns' counterattacks.
After conceding 101 points a game in 2019, Gold Coast is now leaking just 62 points a game through six rounds (which converts to 79 points if the matches were normal 20-minute quarters).
"A lot of it comes down to (defensive coach) Josh Drummond and how he wants our defensive unit to play," Bowes said.
"I think he's big on you playing to your strengths. I've really enjoyed the challenge."
More known as a ball-hunting midfielder, the Suns Academy product is excelling in the air.
He is ranked 11th in the AFL for intercept marks, while his teammates Sam Collins (second) and Charlie Ballard (ninth) make the Suns the only team to have three players ranked so high in that category.
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Bowes says being exposed to the defensive end in his first season under Rodney Eade held him in good stead for his switch this year.
"We had stars in the midfield then and I never looked like getting in there, so it was good to add another position, some versatility to my game," he said.
With Harbrow, Hanley and Collins as the experienced sidekicks, and Ballard, Jack Lukosius and Connor Budarick the youngsters, Bowes fits right in the middle in terms of experience.
When he runs out against Sydney on Saturday, it'll be just his 49th AFL game, but the Cairns product said he already loves directing traffic.
"The great thing with our back six is the continuity, we're playing a lot of games together early on, which we haven't been able to do in the past," he said.
"It's nice to be able to run out there knowing what you're going to get from each other in the back six each week.
"Personally, I like to be a bit of a leader down there and help out the younger guys and lean on the experienced ones to learn.
"Ultimately the change in roles is a challenge but something I love and embrace.
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"For me playing down back I can have just as much of an impact there as I should be able to in the midfield.
"We've got some wins together and the boys are jelling together really well.
"It'd be great for us if we can beat Sydney, build some momentum going back home.
"We're going to have to earn the right to get those four points."