After missing Round 1 with a calf injury, a fit-again Pearce Hanley is one of five players recalled to the SUNS lineup for Round 2 against West Coast on Saturday.
Speaking to the media on Friday, Hanley said the extended layoff due to COVID has allowed him to get back on the park in fine condition.
“I’m excited,’” he said.
“Unfortunately I had a few calf issues but in the few weeks off I was able to get back on the track and get my fitness up.
“The last three or four weeks of training has been gold and I’ve loved being around the boys again so I’m super excited for tomorrow.”
The SUNS veteran has had a rocky run with injuries in the past couple of seasons.
In 2018 it was a shoulder injury which caused him trouble early on before a hamstring injury ended his year.
Then last season it was a troublesome shin and a severely corked quad which saw him miss almost two months of football.
Hanley puts the unlucky run down to his training habits and is confident he has overcome those issues.
“I think for me consistency in my training is crucial,” he explained.
“Generally when I don’t have it I get injured and soft tissue has been a bit of an issue.
“But I’ve had a few good weeks of training and I’m confident in my body now.”
It will be a tough first-up assignment for Hanley in the backline, coming up against the 2018 Premiers at Metricon Stadium.
But the 31-year-old said it was an opportunity for the SUNS group to make a statement to the rest of the competition.
“Our boys are hungry and we’re ready to get out there and prove to everyone what we’ve got,” he said.
“Absolutely we want to be competitive and we’re going out there to win.
“I think we get a second chance at a first impression this year and we’re looking to take it so we’re not there to make up the numbers.”
The match will be Gold Coast’s 200th in the AFL, with the club notching the milestone in its 10th season.
Hanley said the club would do everything possible to repay the members and fans for their support over the years.
“We’ve got a great membership base and they’ve stuck by us through the tough times and we’re hoping there’s going to be some better times in the future,” he said.
“We do have a second chance and we’re excited but we’re still not there yet.
“We know we’ve got to come out and perform tomorrow.
“We’re not thinking of any milestones, we’re literally just thinking about the next game, putting in a good effort and hopefully getting the four points.”