It’s shaping to be as one of the Gold Coast’s most enticing local clashes in recent memory, but midfielder Sam Flanders says it’s simply an opportunity for the SUNS VFL squad to keep doing what they love – playing footy.
The SUNS have survived two cut-throat finals against Box Hill Hawks and the Sydney Swans to set up a blockbuster match-up with Southport at Fankhauser Reserve in a VFL Preliminary Final on Sunday afternoon.
Fresh off the back of a standout performance on-ball against the Swans which included an eye-watering 46 disposals, Flanders says his side aren’t feeling any pressure and are simply looking forward to playing alongside each other once again.
“It’s massive for Queensland football to have three of the four teams in the (Preliminary) finals,” Flanders said.
“They’re obviously a strong team with a good system, good players and are coached really well, but the pressure’s not on us.
“As a group, we’re just treating it like another game of football. We’re just going out there, having fun and hopefully the result will take care of itself.
“We just want to keep playing games and enjoy it.”
The SUNS booked their finals berth on the back of seven straight wins to round out the home-and-away season, including a nine-point victory against the Sharks in the penultimate round.
It’s that proven ability to win high-stakes games that has Flanders buoyant about the SUNS chances of progressing to a first VFL Grand Final.
“It’s pretty crazy to think about it. I think, halfway through the season, a lot of people counted us out. It’s credit to us as a club, and as a younger group to get it over the line and make it into a Prelim,” Flanders continued.
“We just stuck to our processes. Everyone bought in to what we’re trying to do here, we’ve got great coaches – they’re sending the messages from above and we’re going out there on game day, having fun and playing for each other.
“We’re definitely accustomed to those finals-like conditions in terms of close games. The next two weeks, hopefully, will be like that so hopefully our experience comes out on top.
Exemplifying the culture established at the SUNS was the presence of leaders, including Touk Miller, Nick Holman, Brayden Fiorini and Jy Farrar, in the stands at Blacktown International Sportspark as the SUNS edged the Swans in a thrilling Semi-Final on Sunday.
The quartet are expected to be joined by many more teammates and SUNS supporters this Sunday at Southport.
“For us to see them in the crowd, it’s just lifting. They didn’t have to come down, but we all know they love the club and it was massive for us to see leaders of the club come down and watch us,” Flanders added.
Sunday’s Preliminary Final at Fankhauser Reserve gets underway at 1.10pm, entry to the venue is free.