Humphrey bearing the load as Suns set up in Darwin
An 18-year-old "competitive beast" is dragging Gold Coast along as they go hunting for another AFL scalp in a crucial two-week Darwin stay.
The Suns (4-6) play the Western Bulldogs (7-3) on Saturday at TIO Stadium and will remain in the Northern Territory to face Adelaide (5-5) the week after.
The fortnight will shape the team's season, a maiden finals campaign the expectation of a squad that finished two wins outside the top eight last year.
Stuart Dew's men beat Geelong earlier this year and have pushed Melbourne and the Brisbane Lions without injured captain and midfielder Touk Miller since then.
On a five-game winning streak, the on-song Bulldogs present another chance for the Suns to prove their mettle.
"They're a quality outfit and we have been playing and matching it with the best," Ben Ainsworth told AAP.
"Had three quality quarters against Brisbane ... only a couple of weeks ago we matched it with Melbourne.
"(Without Miller) the task has been not do anything outlandish, just play our roles and we've been doing that to a great level."
Helping that's been the emergence of 18-year-old No.6 draft pick Bailey Humphrey, a Gippsland product who grew up a 10-minute drive from Morwell's Ainsworth in Moe.
Humphrey won a Rising Star nomination in Gold Coast's big win over West Coast then backed it up with a blistering effort against a stacked Brisbane midfield.
The teenager took it to the Lions at their Gabba stronghold and had some early dominance before finishing with 26 disposals, seven score involvements, 617 metres gained and seven inside 50s.
"He's a Moe boy, but Morwell's a lot nicer, mate," Ainsworth grinned.
"He's a ripping fella, playing terrific footy.
"Ever since he walked in the door he was a competitive beast and he keeps showing that.
"He dragged a lot of blokes along with him last week. In his first year, that's incredible to see.
"He's wise beyond his years and he knows what it takes to maintain it. It's only the beginning for him."
Jason Johannisen (hamstring) is the only out for the Bulldogs, while Darwin product Joel Jeffrey has earnt a recall for the Suns.
Jeffrey kicked five goals against the Dogs last year before helping Gold Coast to big wins over Hawthorn and North Melbourne in their Darwin stay in 2022.