‘Seen a lot’: Uwland’s mission to take Suns over edge

It’s been almost 10 years to the day since Gary Ablett’s shoulder injury spoiled what was shaping as Gold Coast’s breakout AFL season.

Third after 10 rounds and still inside the eight after 16 rounds, they won just eleven more after Ablett was injured and finished 12th. Coach Guy McKenna was subsequently sacked.

It’s a moment burned into foundation Suns members like Bodhi Uwland, who was only 10 at the time.

In their 14th AFL season, the Suns are still hunting for a maiden finals appearance. Damien Hardwick’s side are 6-5 and a win outside the top eight in his first campaign as coach.

“I’ve seen a lot of things,” half back Uwland told AAP ahead of Sunday’s match against Essendon.

“That’s something I fully understand, how the fans feel.

“Back 10 years ago they were going well… then that (Ablett) injury.

“Being on that edge for so long. Now I’m here, I want to do everything I can to help us go over that edge to make finals and contend for premierships.”

Uwland has been one of Hardwick’s projects this season, promoted then returned to the VFL for two weeks, where he was challenged to attack out of defence.

He’s back in the top side now and confident of providing that impetus in what shapes as another crucial moment in club history against the second-placed Bombers.

“If we can go 7-5, it’s going to set us up,” the 20-year-old said.

“Dimma (Hardwick) and the other coaches have given me a lot of confidence with my ball use.

“I’m backing myself to want the ball in my hands a bit more, putting myself in trickier situations; supporting the contest a bit stronger, rather than worrying too much about my direct opponent.

“It’s how we want to play the game.”

The Suns weren’t able to call the shots in last week’s tough loss to Carlton in Melbourne, with their vaunted midfield outplayed at a 29-point loss.

While unbeaten at Carrara and their Darwin home base in six games this year, Gold Coast’s Marvel Stadium lost their 12th-straight away from those venues.

Hardwick said the Bombers were “well and truly in the mix” under coach Brad Scott.

“He’s got them playing a style of game is instantly recognizable,” he said.

“That’s the measure of a good side… they do what they do, we all know it, but they do it better than anyone else.”

Gold Coast will welcome back Sam Flanders from illness while Ned Moyle comes in for ruckman and co-captain Jarrod Witts (hamstring).

The Bombers have their own virus dramas, while last week’s debutant Nate Caddy so far the only chance.

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