Pre-season is heating up at the Gold Coast SUNS as the club begins its second week in the New Year training block.

Several SUNS have been turning heads on the training track as they aim to lock down a position in Stuart Dew’s best 22 for 2023.

One of the standout pre-season performers has been fourth-year SUN Sam Flanders. 

Drafted after Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson in 2019, Flanders has been one of the hardest workers across the off-season, and now pre-season, as he looks to catapult his late 2022 form into this year.

The 21-year-old is matching it as one of the best trainers at the club right now, with impressive intensity and leadership, and is hungry to add to his 30 AFL games this season.

Wil Powell is flying in his comeback from an ankle injury which ended his 2022 season prematurely. The defender has re-integrated back into the main training group, and is also noticeably stronger in the gym, lifting more than ever before.

Another fan favourite SUNS supporters will be yearning to see return is Ben King.

The SUNS spearhead is now 11 months removed from his ACL injury and is looking sharp in training as he ramps up his training loads in the coming weeks. He’s another who has been notching personal bests in the gym.

Lachie Weller continues to tick boxes in his own ACL recovery and is nearing a return to training with the main group.

In the 2km time trial last week, Brandon Ellis proved he is fitter than ever before, setting a new club record and holding off some fierce competition from his teammates.

A young SUN keen to add more midfield minutes to his game in 2023 is Alex Davies. The Cairns SUNS Academy graduate continues to develop and his endurance coupled with his big-bodied frame offers a point of difference to Gold Coast’s midfield group.

Training with the forward group, Jack Lukosius has been a noticeable improver and looks set to take his game to another level in 2023. He’s running better than ever and has added more explosiveness to his game.

Ben Long has acclimatised quickly to his new club and looks to be at home in his position at half-back.

Another defender on the cusp of a breakout season is Jy Farrar, with the versatile back looking sharp on the track and firming for an important role in 2023.

The usual suspects of Touk Miller, Sam Collins, Noah Anderson, Matt Rowell, Ben Ainsworth and Jarrod Witts are eye-catchers on the track as they look to once again improve in 2023.

With a healthy playing list, the competition for a spot in the best 22 is heating up, giving the SUNS coaches plenty to think about ahead of the pre-season practice matches commencing in late February.