Port Adelaide vs Gold Coast: Shanghai 'concerns' banished, Suns and Power pander to locals

Gold Coast Suns coach Rodney Eade with Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley in front of the Pudong skyline in Shanghai. Photo: Supplied

Gold Coast Suns coach Rodney Eade with Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley in front of the Pudong skyline in Shanghai. Photo: Supplied

RELATED: History in the making as Barossa fans head to China for Power-Suns clash

Shanghai: From questions in Mandarin about the benefits to tourism, to local crowd support for the clubs, to even having players demonstrate for the media how to handball, there was nothing normal about Wednesday's press conference under a blazing Shanghai sun between the Gold Coast Suns and Port Adelaide.

And when the questions turned to football, there was no mistaking the Suns and Power were here for business in what remains a crucial stage of the season.

Suns coach Rodney Eade's comments on radio over the weekend about the potential issues of this trip, including the few business-class seats available for his big men, may not have gone down overly well among some AFL officials, but his co-captain Steven May was quick to refute suggestions Sunday's clash at Jiangwan Stadium was a "junket".

"We sat down after the Geelong game. Actually, straight after. We knew we were taking on Port in China which is an historic event. We knew there would be potential (flight) delays, as there were last night (Wednesday). There may be an issue with the food, there were a range of possible things which can go wrong but it's all about the attitude. That's what we have preached," he said.

"We are going over to a different country. We just have to embrace it, rather than have a negative mindset. The boys were fantastic, I thought last night, when the delay came. It was our little test, then they were super."

That test came care of a trip of more than 23 hours, including a two-hour delay on the tarmac in Singapore. A direct flight from Melbourne would have taken about 11 hours.

Despite a lack of sleep, Eade embraced the clash, pointing out the benefits for the AFL and Suns. He also clarified the comments he made on radio.

"I didn't actually express concerns. I was asked a question and I answered what the facts are, that the travel time is, and was asked a question about business class, and said there was only a few in," he said.

He declared the Shanghai clash would be "fantastic".

"I think it's two-fold for us. I think it's for the AFL itself, to be able to globalise the game, expose more people to it. I think from our point of view -  we have mentioned a lot about the tourism to the Gold Coast," he said.

"There are no complaints. There are no concerns. We have done our preparation accordingly."

Eade won't have hist first look at the ground until Friday when the Suns train for the first time.

Several of the Suns have brought family, with Gary Ablett joined by younger brother Nathan - the two having played in the Cats' 2007 premiership - and his mother among those by his side.

Ablett has been in superb touch since his well-publicised struggles against Greater Western Sydney in round two. Eade said he "knew" the champion midfielder would respond in the style he has.

China's issues with smog are well known, although Shanghai's problems are not as bad as Beijing's. Power captain Travis Boak, preparing for his 100th clash in charge, said he was not expecting any problems.

"I haven't thought about it too much at all. I have been an asthmatic since I was a kid and I trained over here in November and I was fine. I will go about it as usual. I will take my ventolin which I do every week, so I haven't thought about it too much," he said.

Ken Hinkley, also set to enjoy a milestone of his own - his 100th match as coach - said star midfielder Robbie Gray would play. Gray has been battling groin issues.

This clash will also be a first in another way, for Power forward Charlie Dixon will face his former side for the first time since defecting after the 2015 campaign. Dixon has booted 17 goals this season and has been a key figure in the Power's surge.

"He is in great form, that's one good thing for us. Charlie is playing the best I have actually seen him play in his career in the last couple of weeks particularly, but over the course of this year," Hinkley said.

"He is a pretty confident, he is up and about. Obviously, it's a first time opportunity to play against his old club. He doesn't need to do anything extra. He just needs to be part of the Port Adelaide team."

The story ‘Port Adelaide v Gold Coast: Shanghai 'concerns' banished, Suns and Power pander to locals’ was originally published on The Age.

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