The SUNS one to four year players returned for pre-season training on Monday, kicking off with the standard two kilometre time trial.

The players will train for a two-week block before breaking for Christmas and resuming on January 11. 

SUNS Media have broken down some key storylines to follow throughout pre-season.

Matt Rowell’s return:

All eyes will be on the SUNS pick one from last year as he makes his long-anticipated return from shoulder injury. Rowell has been attacking his rehab relentlessly since suffering a season-ending shoulder dislocation in Round 5 against Geelong. The 19-year-old set the AFL world alight in his brief debut season, earning a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination and nine Brownlow votes in his four-and-a-bit games. Since then, he has cycled the elevation of Mt Everest as part of his rehab program and has returned to full fitness, ready to launch into his second AFL pre-season. Watch this space. 

Noah Anderson’s rise:

Given more responsibility as the 2020 season wore on, Noah Anderson was a shining light for the SUNS last season, finishing second in the NAB AFL Rising Star Award. His sixth-placed finish in the SUNS Club Champion rates as one of the best performances by a player in his debut season in SUNS history. Anderson proved he can play as both an outside and inside midfielder this season, giving Senior Coach Stuart Dew plenty of flexibility to his lineup. Anderson is primed to take the next step and will be someone to keep an eye on throughout pre-season. 

New recruits to add experience to the mix:

The SUNS added some fresh faces in the off-season, with hard-running defenders Oleg Markov and Rory Atkins joining the club. Despite not being required to return until January, both recruits were present on day one and will continue to be around the club leading up to Christmas. The pair are well-respected from their time at other clubs and will add plenty to the SUNS both on and off the field.

Who will be the pre-season bolter?

Last season it was Ben Ainsworth who was “training the house down” during the pre-season, consistently setting the highest standards for his teammates. The result of that? A career-best season for the SUNS number 9. So who is in line to be the next pre-season success story? It could be Izak Rankine, who showed glimpses of his enormous potential in 2020, or maybe Wil Powell who was a revelation in defence last season? Others to keep an eye on are Sam Flanders, Jeremy Sharp, Caleb Graham, Jy Farrar and Jez McLennan.