GC SUNS midfielder Sam Flanders knows where he wants to get to and he’s putting in the hard yards in pursuit.

The 22-year-old, who signed a fresh four-year extension at the back end of the 2023 season, says he’s squarely focused on ticking off a number of personal and team goals in 2024.

Having been a mainstay of the SUNS side in the second half of the campaign, Flanders has all the motivation he needs to push for further opportunities under new Senior Coach Damien Hardwick.

“There’s still a lot in me. There are a lot of goals that I have that I haven’t achieved yet that I want to get to in my young career,” Flanders said.

“There’s a lot that I’m going after this season, but ultimately for us it’s about winning games and that always comes first.

“When the coaching staff back you in, it gives you belief and that confidence is a massive thing.”

The defending Heritage Bank Emerging Player of the Year continues to impress on the training track, thriving in pre-season sessions more targeted towards high-intensity work.

While Flanders says the changes in coaching staff have brought about expected tweaks behind the scenes, there’s also a clear focus on connecting and uniting the squad.

“There are different philosophises that a new coach brings in and little things like the training load. We’ve focused a bit more on high-speed so far this off-season which suits a lot of us mids. It’s been keeping us fresh and hopefully will at the back end of the season,” Flanders said.

“He wants us to play a lot on instinct. We’re developing a system but ultimately after that we just want to play to our strengths. 

“We’ve changed the interior of the club around a bit too just to try connect us all a bit more… simple things like eating lunch with the staff you wouldn’t normally eat lunch with, having those conversations and being connected is a big thing for us.”

Flanders says that focus on connection is proving dividends already for a midfield brigade boasting the likes of Touk Miller, Noah Anderson and Matt Rowell.

“We’re all working pretty hard, but it’s been great to bounce questions off each other and we’re starting to get that little bit more connected. The more we play together that’s only going to get better.”