Things have changed a bit since Brandon Ellis joined Gold Coast 15 months ago.
After winning two premierships with Richmond in the previous three seasons, Ellis headed north on a five-year deal at the end of 2019 to join the wooden spoon SUNS.
The energetic wingman played 16 games last season as Gold Coast became more competitive and climbed to 14th with five wins and a draw.
Just days out from its first competitive hitout of 2021 against Brisbane, Ellis said the most noticeable change now since his arrival was the development and competition for spots.
In his part of the field alone, the SUNS now have Noah Anderson, Wil Powell, Brayden Fiorini, Jeremy Sharp, Lachie Weller and Jack Lukosius all capable of spending minutes on a wing.
"Everyone has taken their game to the next level and they've had to for us to grow as a team and grow as a club," Ellis said.
"Boys have been tried in multiple positions … I'm sure you'll see that more as preparations continue towards the start of the season."
On Wednesday the SUNS had their first training run on Metricon Stadium in 12 months, and with 46 fit players to choose from, the fight for spots was clear.
Aside from Rory Thompson and No.7 draft pick Elijah Hollands – both continuing their respective comebacks from ruptured ACLs – and new recruit Rory Atkins (shoulder), the rest of the list played a modified game.
"Most sessions are going to be fierce and competitive," Ellis said.
“I think we’ve got 46 fit players to choose from and you can’t fit 46 into 22, there is spots up for grabs and the guys that are on the fringe are trying to get in.”
“Guys want to be in the first team for this weekend and then try and break into the team for Round 1.”
“It’s good having that fierce competition, it just makes you on the edge of your seat and want to get better yourself.”
"There's a few players vying for that wing spot, but I'm not going to give mine up just yet."
Saturday's practice match starts at 3pm (AEST).