Zac Smith.
Zac Smith. Sharyn O'Neill

Smith on the rise

SHANE O'Bree is another of the Gold Coast Suns coaching staff who rates former Rockhampton ruckman Zac Smith very highly following his first year at the top level.

The former Collingwood midfielder was at Yeppoon over the weekend taking coaching sessions for young players and local coaches.

O'Bree said his session with the Central Queensland young players at Cooee Sports Field was not just skill based but also centred around decision making when kicking and hand-balling.

The Gold Coast assistant coach, or stoppage coach, said the club was satisfied with the progress being made at the club but emphasised the 2012 season will provide a new set of problems for the playing group.

Coming directly from a playing career and into a coaching role has tested O'Bree - but he loves it.

"It is pretty easy getting the message across and making sure everyone understands it," he said.

"They are a terrific bunch (at the Suns) and willing to learn."

With so many of the playing squad being youngsters of little or no experience in the higher levels of the game the group require to be brought along at a pace that suits all the individuals.

"Some of the youngsters will take two or three years others only need five or six months," he said.

Smith is one of the young players in the latter category.

"Zac has height, speed, mobility and a good skill level for a guy who has just come into the sport," he said.

"His body is not seasoned yet, this year we will try and get more games out of him, young players have to keep improving."

O'Bree said Smith's selection in the losing Australian team for the hybrid test with Ireland did him no harm.

"It did him good playing with some highly talented players, if anything it kept him fit," he said.

Last season the Gold Coast public got behind the Suns even though the expectations for victories was low.

In 2012 the same people will be looking for improved results for the community to continue with their support.

The new Western Sydney franchise enters the competition with similar expectations as the Suns had for the 2011 season making the clash between the two teams very interesting.

"It won't be a grudge game," he said, "they will be like us this year.

"However, we will go into the game as favourite."

O'Bree said being favoured to win games will be a new pressure for the Suns youngsters but one they must learn to cope with as there will be more matches during the 2012 season where they go in as the favoured team.