Alex Davies realises the next 12 months present a great opportunity in his young career.

Despite having played 25 senior games in his first three AFL seasons, the 21-year-old midfielder is yet to truly establish himself in Gold Coast's best team.

He played nine games in 2023, but just one in the final 10 weeks as Sam Flanders grabbed his opportunity in the middle of the ground and didn't let it go.

But with new senior coach Damien Hardwick on board, it's a clean slate for everyone and for Davies that means a chance to impress and force his way into the senior team.

"I want to put in a big body of (training) work," Davies told just prior to the SUNS' Christmas break.

"I know what I can do, but I need to earn the trust of the coaches and players.

"I know where I sit and what I can do, I just need to put it altogether and make it happen."

Now in his fourth pre-season, the 191cm Davies will press his claims as an inside midfielder that can spend time at half-forward.

With co-captain Touk Miller, reigning best and fairest Noah Anderson, contested ball-winning beast Matt Rowell, Flanders and veteran David Swallow ahead in the pecking order, winning a spot is not going to be easy.

Then there's young gun Bailey Humphrey pushing for midfield time and reliable Brayden Fiorini waiting in the wings.

Davies says he has to improve his running, particularly his ability to explode between contests where he can then use his extra size to win the contested ball.

"My running numbers have improved a lot … a lot more high-speed this pre-season," he said.

"Just that change of speed, change of gears to help me get contest to contest.

"I definitely feel the difference of the running. It's not as much of the long, sloggy stuff, it's high-speed, high-tempo.

"I feel the reduced kilometres as we go through the pre-season, but I feel the lactic (acid), the heaviness, the head noise, just that constant sprinting.

"It's a quick transition game, that's Dimma's game."

Davies, who played his junior football in Cairns, graduated from the SUNS Academy before being taken at the end of the 2020 season.

He said having Shaun Grigg come on as midfield coach this year was helping him adapt to the new demands.

"He's been in our shoes, he's played the system and knows it through and through and it helps a lot," Davies said.

"He knows what we go through. It's up to me to do the rest now."