There’s no shortage for competition inside the GC SUNS forward 50 on the cusp of the 2024 AFL season opener.

Gold Coast’s pre-season preparations continue with match simulation against the Brisbane Lions at Brighton Homes Arena on Thursday evening.

Speaking on Wednesday morning, experienced small forward Nick Holman says competition in front of goal is as hot as ever.

“It’s nearly the best time of year… other than Round 1,” Holman said.

“I’ll play the first three quarters and the role will be similar to what I’ve done all pre-season as a small forward, putting plenty of pressure on.”

Holman solidified his position in the SUNS’ best 22 in recent seasons, renowned for his manic pressure and work rate. Under new Senior Coach Damien Hardwick, the 28-year-old says every player has had a fresh chance to pitch their case.

“It feels like a clean slate and everyone needs to impress. That’s really shown on the track, we’ve been putting lots of pressure on one another and keeping the expectations high,” Holman added.

“The first meeting I had with Dimma he spoke about how important that small forward role is.”

“It’s hot for competition… Darcy Macpherson has really impressed this pre-season and then there’s players like Tom Berry, James Tsitas and Mally Rosas.

“There are a lot of guys in that area which helps me keep performing and put a bit of pressure on.”

That competition extends into the SUNS’ taller brigade. Ben King is tracking well to face the Tigers in Opening Round while experienced heads Sam Day and Levi Casboult have passed on plenty to Academy product Jed Walter.

“There are a lot of guys in that area too and finding that right mix is all part of this time of year,” Holman continued.

“It’s been a bit of a struggle for him but it’s great to see him back in full-flight, jumping at balls and getting into contests.

“It’s great to have Kingy back and Sammy Day is going really well too… it’ll be hot for spots up there.”

Holman has also backed the SUNS to take a big step forward in 2024 saying the side aren’t shying away from their lofty ambitions.

“That’s the maturity of the group, we don’t want to have a ceiling, we want to play finals, win finals and play in grand finals. There’s no point shying away from that, that’s a challenge we’re up for and I think we have the group to do it.”