Running out for his 50th AFL match this weekend, Ben Ainsworth can’t help but look back on his four years at the club so far. 

The 22-year-old has had his injury troubles in the past but has played every game so far this year after a standout pre-season and COVID break.

He said the milestone this weekend was a small recognition for the hard work he’s put in so far.

“It’s obviously pretty pleasing for some individual accolades,” Ainsworth said.

“It’s been a bit of a journey along the way with a few injuries and what-not but I’m happy to get there and hopefully we can get the win this week.”

Despite only eight games having been played so far, this season is already Ainsworth’s most successful in the red and gold and he says people are starting to realise what the team is capable of.

“I think you can probably clearly see externally that we’re making some leaps forward,” he said.

“It’s exciting to be around the group at the moment. 

“We’ve been through everything really, the ups and downs, and it’s good to see that we’re starting to get some success and hopefully we can continue to do that and continue to develop our players. 

“We’ve lost a few but we’ve also won a few which is pleasing and we’re putting the effort in each week.”

 Ticking the 50th off this weekend, Ainsworth will also have the opportunity to quickly add to that tally with the SUNS set to play four games in 16 days due to the condensed fixture.

It’s a far cry from what has been “normal” in his four seasons so far but Ainsworth believes the playing group is well-prepared for the change. 

“We’ve done all the work in the off-season and the COVID break to be ready for this,” he said.

“We probably always knew that it was going to be a condensed fixture and we’d have these back-to-back games.

“We’re running pretty freely at the moment with injuries, touch wood, so hopefully we can continue that throughout the year.”

Gold Coast take on GWS this Sunday at Metricon Stadium, and Ainsworth said despite the Giants’ strong recent form, he was confident the SUNS could get the four points and reclaim a spot in the top eight.

“You’ve obviously got to respect them, they’re a fantastic side and have been for some years now,” he said.

“So we’ll give them all the respect on the weekend but we’re coming out to win the game.”