In just four days the Gold Coast SUNS will begin the club’s 2022 NAB AFLW campaign in tropical Mackay.
It will be Head Coach Cameron Joyce’s debut match in charge, with fans eager to see the new game plan in action at Great Barrier Reef Arena on Sunday afternoon.
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Joyce said those watching could expect an exciting brand of football, and hinted there would be some new faces pulling on the red and gold for the first time.
“We certainly want to put some real pressure and heat on the ball, that’s something that we’ve focussed on as a mainstay of the way that we want to play,” Joyce said.
“Our ball movement and defence piece will evolve as we go.
“We’ll have some debutants in AFLW this weekend which is exciting, we’ll have some players that have never played for the SUNS before and we’ll also have some girls that will play in different roles.
“It’s all growth for us so I think they’re the exciting things that fans will be able to see on the weekend.”
Last week the club confirmed five AFLW players had tested positive for COVID-19, with the entire squad entering isolation, but those players are all expected to be available for selection this weekend.
Joyce said the interruptions to the program hadn’t affected the Round 1 preparations, and added that it was something all clubs would have to learn to deal with this season.
“The way the girls have handled it has been exemplary,” Joyce said.
“We’ve been able to do a fair bit of education and some sessions online through the period that we’ve been in isolation.
“This is no fault of anyone’s, it’s just something that’s part of life at the minute that we just need to manage when it happens.
“Everyone’s got to be able to live their lives and I think this is going to be something that everyone has to live through.”
Leading the team as sole captain in 2022, Hannah Dunn said it was crucial for the team to begin the season with a good performance against GWS.
“The girls know how important it is for us to win this game or get one early,” Dunn said.
“Round 1 of any game is going to be hot, it’s going to be fast, it’s going to be exciting. There’s going to be a lot of nerves from both teams.
“We’ve had such a long pre-season that both teams will just want to get out there and play their brand of footy.
“I think you can expect good things from us in Round 1.”
Dunn reinforced Joyce’s earlier comments about the game plan and what to expect from the SUNS in 2022.
“In previous years we’ve prided ourselves on pressure but we’ve taken it to another level this year,” she said.
“I think our pressure and just our ability to then move the ball into the forward line to be able to score (will be noticeable).”
The match against GWS at Great Barrier Reef Arena gets underway at 5:10pm local time, with the AFL last month announcing free entry to the game for patrons in Mackay.
“We’re really excited to play up there,” Joyce said.
“We’re certainly keen with it being free entry too that as many people turn up and watch in the region as possible.”
The Round 1 team will be announced the day prior to the match, on Saturday afternoon.