There was no hesitation after his first visit to Gold Coast SUNS headquarters. Tom Berry picked up the phone to his manager with a strong message, “let’s do this, I’m ready to go”.
The reception from his new teammates and coaches after the official trade from Brisbane Lions was finalised further solidified his choice to make a leap of faith and join his new club down the highway.
“I loved the feeling when I came into the club, I am very much a family person – that’s the sort of vibe I got from the club straight up from meeting with the staff,” Berry said.
“I’m absolutely pumped to be joining Gold Coast as a club - and who wouldn’t want to live on a beach where it’s great weather all the time, so I’m really excited.”
The appeal of the SUNS extends much further than locale, with the strong core of young talent and support from more established leaders a clear draw card.
The potential for more regular senior game time within a team on the rise also led Berry to draw comparisons to his brother Jarrod’s successful journey at the Lions.
“There’s a great young bunch of boys and they’re starting to drive that future but there’s also the leaders like Touk (Miller),” he said.
“There was opportunity here and they see me as part of the future - I feel the progress they made this year is starting to go in that (upwards trajectory) and I want to be part of something like that.”
The 22-year-old is eyeing the position left vacant in the forward line and believes he has a number of attributes that will complement the SUNS existing attack end.
“Small forward - that’s my one wood at the moment,” he said.
“I like doing the dirty stuff, I like tackling, I like putting pressure on, I have pretty good closing speed – I feel like that’s the role that is there, it’s up for grabs and hopefully I can come in and fulfill that for the team.
“I also played a little bit of time in the midfield when playing VFL at the Lions – I feel that is something that I can keep building on – to be a player who can play different roles.”
Berry was rehabilitating a shoulder injury in the final month of the AFL season and believes he is now well placed to enter pre-season and demonstrate his worth.
With 20 games under his belt across four seasons he said he has a good foundation within an elite environment but there’s a hunger to take that next step in 2023.
“I feel like I’ve grown a lot in my football and there’s a drive in you as a young fella – you want to get in and have a crack and show people what you feel like you can do,” he said.