FREE agent recruit Rory Atkins is almost certain to play his first game in Gold Coast colours on Saturday against Brisbane.
Atkins was among 24 Suns players – including suspended midfielder Touk Miller – who took part in Wednesday's main training session ahead of the QClash.
The former Adelaide wingman joined Gold Coast during the off-season on a five-year deal and has had to overcome shoulder surgery and a foot injury to work his way into the senior team.
The 26-year-old has played three matches in the VFL and was "very, very sharp" in his most recent hitout, according to coach Stuart Dew. Atkins had 20 disposals and two goals in that game on April 30 against Collingwood.
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"It's difficult when a player comes from another club and they're injured," Dew said.
"We had to keep him on track, set out a plan and keep him sticking to it because sometimes when players are in a hurry they can get injured and do themselves a disservice.
"We want to set him up for a full year of footy rather than rushing him in."
Atkins played 101 matches for the Crows before falling out of their team last year and heading north.
Malcolm Rosas Jnr is a confirmed debutant against the Lions and trained strongly on Wednesday, while Darcy Macpherson was also a new face from the team that lost to St Kilda on Saturday.
Dew said he enjoyed the build-up to playing Brisbane.
"It's why we play footy, to play in a game with a little more heightened excitement," he said.
"There's not a lot of weaknesses there (with Brisbane).
"All that points to is we need to play four quarters to get over the top of them."
Aside from Miller, the Suns will also miss pressure forward Nick Holman, who suffered concussion in the final minutes against the Saints.
Ruckman Zac Smith will play his third game in the VFL on Thursday night against Brisbane as he continues to make progress from a PCL injury.