By Ant Wingard @AntWingard
Gold Coast midfielder Brayden Fiorini says he has what it takes to step up and fill the leadership void left by significant departures to the team across consecutive offseasons.
Fiorini, who enters his fourth year with the SUNS, was one of many younger players at the club touted to alleviate the hole and assume greater responsibility in team affairs.
The SUNS lost both 2018 co-captains in the offseason, with Tom Lynch moving to Richmond via free agency and Steven May to Melbourne in a trade, and saw former skipper Gary Ablett return to Geelong one offseason prior in 2017.
But Fiorini, along with a host of young SUNS are ready to take charge as the SUNS look to build on their four-win 2018 season.
“As a whole young list, we want us younger boys standing up. For us to stand up and be successful, we need the younger core to step up,” Fiorini told aflq.com.au.
“The club has put a lot of time into us and really tried to develop our leadership.”
Fiorini joined names such as Jack Bowes, Touk Miller and Lachie Weller as young players flaunted for greater leadership opportunities within the team.
Even now, Fiorini has begun to shine well beyond his 21-year-old stature by mediating team meetings with players and coaching staff.
He played a career-high 11 games in 2018 and managed to take a giant leap in cementing himself as a regular in the SUNS midfield despite injury hampering much of his season.
The 21-year-old polled the equal-highest Brownlow Medal votes of any SUN and averaged a cool 22 disposals when he was able to get on the field.
Those figures came in the face of a positional shift in the 2018 preseason where the team’s overabundance of midfielders saw him deployed in a new role across halfback.
This time around however, Fiorini was adamant his future in the AFL was as a midfielder – the position where he has so far had the most success across his 26-game tenure in the league.
“Obviously I played a little bit of half-back with wing last year, pinch hitting in the guts but this year, it’ll be more wing and inside mid,” he said.
“I definitely want to be a midfielder – that was my goal coming into the AFL, so it’s obviously taken a bit of time with my body and building up with the fitness and strength.
“Coming into this season my goal is to just play every game, so finger crossed there.”
In order to do so, Fiorini has ticked off a major goal of his across the preseason – to get involved with every single training session on the track.
It’s a goal many SUNS have held this summer and one many have been able to tick off.
“A lot of us have gotten on the track every session which is really good and valuable to our list at the moment,” Fiorini said.