Rapid improvements within the playing group in recent weeks has GC SUNS Assistant Coach Brad Miller excited about what the side can produce under new Senior Coach Damien Hardwick.
With the pre-Christmas period dedicated to working on the nuances of a new game style, the forward line coach says there have been notable developments after every session with more opposition added to the mix.
“A lot of things that are engrained in a player… you have to chip away at changing those habits,” Miller said.
“The guys have bought in though… that’s the first thing you have to do as a coach, get the buy in and the belief in what Dimma’s vision is.
“Our group, to their credit, from Day 1 have taken it on board. It hasn’t been perfect and it’s taken a lot to get us to this stage, but what we’ve seen post-Christmas is a really rapid improvement in those areas.
“Now that we’re adding more defenders, it’s become more complex. That adds that decision making element which makes it tougher, but the boys are improving every session.”
That added pressure will go up a notch with two games in the pre-season calendar before taking on Richmond in Opening Round at Heritage Bank Stadium.
The SUNS first face Brisbane in match simulation on February 22 before taking on the Giants in the AAMI Community Series in Canberra on February 29.
“Opposition provides curveballs which you have to adjust and adapt to on the fly, so we know it’s not going to be all smooth sailing from the start,” Miller added.
“We’re going to have patches where we’re not quite executing what we want and we’ll have to address that, work on it, implement, execute, and perform.
“We don’t expect a smooth run, but we do expect to see some rapid improvements.”
The SUNS won’t have the services of the club’s top 2023 draft pick, young key forward Jed Walter, for the opening stages of the season with the teenager sidelined with a collarbone injury.
Miller says the SUNS have plenty of options inside forward 50, praising the pre-seasons of players like Sam Day, James Tsitas and Ben King.
“Sammy Day has had a really good pre-season. He’s come back a bit leaner so we’re hoping he can play that role (key forward) as well,” Miller continued.
“If Jimmy (Tsitas) is not in the top two of guys who want to get every ounce out of their ability, he’s on the podium… his pursuit of excellence is right up there with the best I’ve ever coached.
“Kingy has done a lot of work off the park away from footy. He was at the mercy of his starts which he’s addressed… he’s really put time into the mental side of it.
“That’s his next area of growth and where we’ll see the greatest improvement.”