On Friday the SUNS will have its entire AFL list reunited on the Gold Coast, with the exception of one international recruit.
While over 40 players stayed on the Coast during the coronavirus shutdown period, a handful of younger players returned to their home states, or in the case of rookie Luke Towey, back to his home country of Ireland.
Ben King, Jack Lukosius, Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson are amongst those set to return to Queensland from Victoria and South Australia, while Wil Powell, Jeremy Sharp and Malcolm Rosas Jnr have also returned from Western Australia and the Northern Territory respectively.
SUNS GM – Football Operations Jon Haines said the club had been in talks with the interstate players to begin to return in anticipation of a pending announcement from the AFL on a return to play date.
“We were in really consistent and regular communication with the players whether they were at home on the Gold Coast or interstate,” Haines told SUNS Media.
“All those guys have had individual programs which they’ve been undertaking and they all appear in really good physical condition which is great.
“It’s unusual timing but certainly for those guys it’s been great to spend some quality time with their families.”
Haines also said arrangements were being worked through to ensure Towey is able to return to Australia in the near future.
The next steps will be awaiting a decision from the AFL on when the competition can resume, and then planning out what the brief “pre-season” period will entail.
“We’re still waiting on confirmation from the AFL around exact details for a return to play,” Haines said.
“Once we have those we’ll have a better understanding of what the program will look like and also what the protocols are that will sit around any return to training.
“The second part of that will be commencing pre-season and starting to get ready in a pretty short period of time for Round 2.”
One positive of the enforced shutdown period has been the players’ engagement in off-field activities.
A number of the players are enrolled in university courses with club partner Griffith University and have used the extra time to up their study load.
"Their actual focus on maximising their time has been really positive and guys have really taken the opportunity to explore things that they probably wouldn’t normally get the opportunity to do in a regular season,” Haines said.
“It shows they’re a really motivated group and they understand that time is of the essence but it’s also a great time to learn new things.
“We’ve been really pleased with the level of initiative shown by the group in that sense.”