The SUNS ramped up its pre-season preparations with its first hitout of 2024 in a six-period match simulation against the Brisbane Lions.

More than 40 players took the field across the evening with some key takeaways coming from the outing, thanks to SIXT.

New year, same Touk

Two-time Club Champion Touk Miller showed now signs of hangover from an injury-interrupted 2023 campaign. From the get-go with the opening two clearances, Miller was busy throughout the first three terms and finished with a major to his name while Matt Rowell showed he’s ready to attack 2024 full steam ahead as one of the best afield for Damien Hardwick’s side. Those two lined up alongside Noah Anderson and Jarrod Wittsat the opening centre bounce.

Ready to level up

Another player who featured regularly throughout the night at centre bounces was Sam Flanders. The prolific ball winner showed all the signs he’s ready to take his game to another level in 2024, as did young Bailey Humphrey. On the verge of his second season on the SUNS list, the 19-year-old was particularly damaging inside forward 50 with three scoring shots in quick succession during the second term.

Positional changes

He sits second on the SUNS all-time goalkicking charts but Alex Sexton appears right at home now deployed across half-back. The 31-year-old provided plenty of run and carry out of defensive 50 towards forward-turned-defender-turned-forward again Darcy Macpherson. 

New faces impress

All of the SUNS’ new recruits, bar injured duo Jake Rogers and Jed Walter, got their opportunity on Thursday evening with plenty to like from the club’s new brigade. Former Werribee youngster Sam Clohesy earned a spot on the wing in the opening three periods in place of Brandon Ellis, while Academy product Ethan Read was thrown into defensive 50 following the second term and showed plenty for his new fans to be excited by.

Forward line squeeze

Walter’s eventual returns will create only more headaches for Damien Hardwick who appears to have a plethora of key options inside forward 50. Sam Day and Jack Lukosiusboth hit the scoreboard while Levi Casboult entered the fray later in the piece and kicked a bag.

Fantasy watch

Flanders’ (MID/FWD $809k) role appears too good to pass up and it’s no surprise more than 40% of coaches have him pencilled in. Sexton’s (FWD $382k) first outing against AFL opposition as a defender has enticed a growing number of coaches to invest while Miller’s price tag at $868k could be the bargain of the season.

The SUNS next face the GWS Giants in the club’s official pre-season match on Thursday, February 29 at Manuka Oval.