RORY Thompson's impact in his comeback match on Saturday went far beyond his seven disposals, says Gold Coast vice-captain Sam Collins.
The 31-year-old inaugural Sun played alongside Collins and Charlie Ballard in a key defensive unit that blanketed the Swans.
"I definitely stood a lot taller knowing the big fella was out there," Collins said.
"It brings a lot of confidence when you get to play alongside Rory.
"He's had a really tough journey … I'm sure he's probably had some doubts whether he'd be able to do it.
"I know the whole backline, the whole team really loved having him out there. It's a great story for football."
FANTASY LATEST Tips, strategy, draft, podcasts, more
Thompson's addition to Gold Coast's backline had a huge effect on Ballard's performance in particular.
While Collins did a terrific job in keeping Lance Franklin quiet, Thompson was able to take the deepest Sydney forward – a role Ballard often has.
"It gave us a bit of flexibility," Collins said.
"Charlie was able to free himself up a bit and play the role where he might be best suited, in terms of rolling off and reading the play."
Ballard finished with 11 intercept possessions, the second-most on the ground behind his teammate Wil Powell (13).
Gold Coast face another stern test when it hosts white-hot Fremantle at Metricon Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
BROWNLOW PREDICTOR Who's leading the race?
Collins, who played 14 games for the Dockers in 2016 and 2017 before being delisted, said this match always held a special place for him.
"I absolutely love playing Freo," he said.
"There's definitely a bit more in this game for me.
"I hope as a team we can go out there and give them a good run for their money."