Being back out in the red and gold couldn’t feel any better for Ellie Hampson.

The hard-nosed midfielder has finally overcome a persistent foot injury and is getting back to her best in a new-look SUNS engine room this season.

She played a key role in the close loss to Melbourne on the weekend, where her tackling pressure and attack on the ball was a feature of her game.

Speaking to SUNS Media, Hampson said the team was proud of their effort, but also dissatisfied they had let an opportunity slip.

“There’s a lot of confidence out of the game as well as disappointment,” she said.

“I think that was an opportunity we had to really compete with one of the top sides (and) we probably had a bit more in us.

“But I think going forward to know we’re in reach of those top teams is really exciting and we’re looking forward to Geelong this week.”

Hampson had five tackles in the match against Melbourne and also kicked her first AFLW goal.

Technically she has been a SUN the longest of anyone, as the only remaining player from the three foundation 17-year-old signings back in 2019, almost three years ago to this date.

She says the feeling within the AFLW program is the best it’s been over those three years on the back of renewed confidence in 2022.

“The energy is through the roof at the moment,” Hampson said.

“We’ve got girls coming in (to the club) on all their off days doing things outside of football.

“We’ve just got so much energy within the group and belief this year and there’s just so much improvement still to go.

“With the amount we’re achieving already and the belief we have just off the two wins is huge.

“Every week we’re just getting better and better and we just want to improve because that feeling of a win is just amazing and the girls are starting to remember that feeling so we just want it more and more and we’re excited for what we have this year.”

Just getting out and playing football again is enough for Hampson, who has missed a number of games over her first two seasons with the foot injury.

She said she was glad to be back playing consistent football again and to return for her first game at Metricon Stadium in almost a year.

“It’s been a long time coming for me to play in front of a home crowd,” she said.

“I missed out the game against Richmond the other week so I’m very, very excited to play on the Gold Coast.

“Hopefully we can play a good game of footy against Geelong and really take it to the Cats.

“They’ve come off a good win and I think with both of us coming in as newer clubs within the competition, it’s very exciting to see both of us starting to slingshot forward this year and really starting to improve within the competition and gain some respect back.”