A new era begins for the SUNS on Saturday afternoon as the club returns to the VFL competition for the first time since 2010.

The new-look competition will feature six new clubs in 2021 with the SUNS joined by the Brisbane Lions, Sydney Swans, GWS Giants, Southport Sharks and Aspley Hornets.

SUNS VFL Head Coach Tate Kaesler said the revamped competition would provide greater opportunities for developing players to be exposed to a higher level of football.

“To play in a competition like the VFL that’s got an amazing history, for our club to be a part of it is really exciting,” Kaesler said.

“It’s a really strong competition but we get to have our players on hand every week playing against really good quality opposition.

“Occasionally there’s going to be a superstar out of the AFL that’s coming back from injury or not in form that our guys are going to have the experience to play against.

“That’s really exciting that week in, week out we can come up against really quality opposition.”

The competition will also allow for a greater alignment between the club’s senior and VFL teams which Kaesler says will only help the players with their development.

“The advantage we’ve got is there are going to be times where we align with our AFL group.

“The ability to travel away together is really exciting and the ability to have our assistant coaches be able to help me and assist me on gameday is going to be really exciting for the young players.”

Kaesler, who is also responsible for the club’s team defence from AFL to VFL level, said it was important the VFL team mirrored the same approach and game-style as the AFL side.

He hopes it will lead to players earning opportunities at senior level by playing AFL-standard football and putting pressure on those players ahead of them.

“The main part for us is making sure that we bring effort and energy every week and we play at an AFL intensity.

“Yes we’re developing these players to play AFL footy but we also want to make sure that we play with an intensity that we’re in a position to win every week.

“That’s going to be our focus from a development point of view and it’s getting these players to understand what it takes to play at AFL level.

“The more we can train that and guide them through that, the better off they’re going to be when they make that big step.”

Gold Coast kicks off its 2021 VFL season on Saturday against Footscray at VU Whitten Oval, with first bounce at 11:20am.

Click here for Round 1 VFL ticketing information.