The Gold Coast SUNS Academy Under 18 Girls team will open their Coates Talent League campaign this weekend at IKON Park in Melbourne against the Greater Western Victoria Rebels. 

The SUNS Academy side opened 2023 with back-to-back wins against fellow Northern Academy sides, the Brisbane Lions and Sydney Swans, and now look to extend their winning streak into the Coates Talent League against Victorian opposition. 

Under 18 Girls Academy Coach Sam Iles says the previous games were great for development, but now his squad has a great opportunity to be exposed to Victorian footy. 

“For the girls to play as a group and play as a team in terms of that collective and develop from week one to week two was really, really good,” Iles said. 

“We know this group is really talented and really strong, whether it’s the 19, 18, 17 or 16 year old’s within the program. 

“For the group to be able to gel together so well has been really impressive. 

“The other challenge is for them to travel together as a group and then prep to play. An overnight pregame will be really good for them.”

The preparation heading into this season has been different to past campaigns, which Iles is thankful for. 

“Last year the National Championships were in April, so it was a really short turnaround and a short preseason,” Iles said. 

“We had a couple of games against the Lions and then we only got to play one game in the Under 18 competition against Victorian opposition. 

“This year has been better in terms of preparation because it’s a bit more spaced out, it’s been really good for the girls. 

“We get three games in the Coates Talent League, and we also got the two games against the Northern Academies, so we have a mini-match phase block of games throughout May and June. 

“Then hopefully the girls that perform really well, will put their hands up for Queensland Under 18 selection.”

Western Jets are the next opposition for the SUNS Academy girls, who they play in Brisbane, before travelling to Melbourne again in the first weekend of June to play Oakleigh Cannons. 

The Gold Coast SUNS Academy Girls play Greater Western Victoria Rebels at 12.30pm at IKON Park before the SUNS Academy Under-18 Boys the Rebels at the same venue at 2.30pm.