THE selfless approach of former captain David Swallow has been a key ingredient to Gold Coast's strong early season form, says coach Stuart Dew.
Despite playing a majority of his 184 career games as a hard-nosed midfielder, Swallow was pushed to half-back early in 2022 as the Suns sought to find the right defensive mix.
However, with Connor Budarick and Rory Thompson both returning in the past month from long-term knee injuries, Swallow has made his way back to his preferred position.
MEDICAL ROOM Check out the full injury list
Against Sydney two weeks ago, the 29-year-old gathered 24 disposals and kicked a goal, while against Fremantle on Sunday it was 12 disposals – all of them contested – and a goal.
His influence outstrips his numbers, with a huge second quarter contest win resulting directly in a Mabior Chol goal.
"He's the ultimate team man," Dew said on Wednesday.
"As a senior coach and a group of coaches, having someone willing to sacrifice where they play their best and like to play to fill a hole until Connor got back has given us good flexibility.
"We've been working for a while to have a flexible team."
Not only has Swallow shown he can play forward, midfield or in defence, but Lachie Weller, who started the season as a running defender and has moved to a wing, and Brandon Ellis, have also fallen into that category.
The big difference in 2022, Dew says, is the availability of fit players.
Aside from the season-ending knee injury to Ben King, Gold Coast has done well on the injury front to date, with Jack Lukosius (knee) the only other regular best 22 player currently on the sideline.
"Last year we copped it (injuries)," Dew said.
"We didn't have many injuries, it was just who to – Rory, Connor and Wittsy (Jarrod Witts).
"We talked about how we missed them, and it becomes really clear now that we did and it's great to have them back, for sure."