Damien Hardwick is the new coach of the Gold Coast Suns, signing a six-year deal with the Queensland club.
- Damien Hardwick left Richmond, where he coached three premierships, earlier this year
- He is now tasked with being the first Gold Coast coach to take the Suns to the finals
- Hardwick says he believes this is the beginning of an “incredible journey”, and aims to make the Suns “a contender”
Hardwick, who coached Richmond to three premierships between 2017 and 2020, stepped away from the Tigers earlier this season citing burnout and fatigue.
But after a brief break away from the game, Hardwick has been convinced to return to the coaching game with the Suns.
The Suns had been searching for a new permanent head coach since sacking Stuart Dew in July. Former assistant coach Steven King had taken on the head coach role on an interim basis for the rest of the 2023 season.
“I liken it to waking up on Christmas Day and walking out to a set of brand new toys,” Hardwick said at his first press conference with the Suns.
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“I know that this season is coming to its finality, but I’m very much looking forward to coaching you young men and taking us to where we need to go.
“That’s to raise our first premiership cup, which I’m pretty sure will be in the not too distant future.”
Suns chairman Bob East said in a statement Hardwick’s appointment was a “significant step” towards the club’s goal to deliver success.
“When we began the process to determine our senior coach, it was quickly apparent Damien was the best candidate available, with premiership experience and the proven elite coaching skill set required for the job,” East said.
“We have high expectations for our club and firmly believe Damien can deliver on these to elevate the Gold Coast Suns to achieve premiership success in the AFL competition.”
In their 13-year history, the Suns have never qualified for an AFL finals series, but Hardwick will have a list stocked with some of the league’s best young talent to work with.
Hardwick said it was now his job to deliver Gold Coast a team it could be proud of.
“I firmly believe this is the beginning of an incredible journey with a club and a community that has a burning desire to succeed,” Hardwick said.
“I can see the tremendous potential we have in front of us, but understand it will take hard work from here to reach our goals.
“The foundations are in place for us to build this club into a contender for years to come and this is a challenge I am extremely excited to take on.”