Don't let the haircut fool you, Sam Collins wants to run an AFL club's football department one day.

The hard-nosed Gold Coast defender admits he has "morphed" into the SUNS' key backman since his arrival in 2019, plucked from Box Hill in the VFL after being delisted by Fremantle.

He was sporting a more traditional cut back then but has taken it into his own hands with a look he says mirrors his development on the Gold Coast.

"I cut it myself ... my hair is an evolution of my football," the 28-year-old proudly said.

"Since I first got here it's changed a lot.

"I've a lot more confidence in myself and am comfortable trying to put my fingerprints on the club.

"I'm not the most modern footballer; I am quite small and it's not where I was drafted to play, but it's where I've ended up.

"I play an important role for the team and l love it."

The Werribee junior has a finance degree and is completing his master of business administration.

He's clear-minded because of the long road taken to cement an AFL career.

"It's been a totally different journey to probably anyone else in the AFL, but that's important because it's given me great perspective for how good we have it here and I've set myself up after football," he said.

Collins wants to explore the corporate avenues that an MBA will open once his playing days are over, but has a dream job in mind

"I'd love to find my way back into footy into a GM of footy role," he said.

"So I need to get the haircut out of the system now before I go back to the short back and sides."

Injury kept Collins to just nine games in his first Suns season but he was still named as part of the side's leadership group the following year.

His fierce nature and competitiveness is driving the side's push for a maiden finals berth after a club-best 10-12 campaign last year.

"Some of the key forwards, you don't want to pump up," he said of the goal-square niggle.

"But if I'm hard to play on and that's a nuisance to them, I'm doing my job.

"Internally there's no doubts of what we're capable of but externally that's lagging a bit and that's on them to catch up.

"Teams are starting to respect us but we've got to play our best footy and the perception of us will change."