GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 21: Damien Hardwick speaks at a Gold Coast Suns AFL press conference announcing his signing as the new coach at Heritage Stadium on August 21, 2023 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

New Gold Coast Suns Senior Coach Damien Hardwick spoke to the media on the Suns' first official day of pre-season, highlighting his excitement for his new coaching journey and the bright future his side possesses.

The triple premiership coach said he is keen and eager to get to work up north, with the former Richmond mentor left impressed by his playing group's opening sessions at Carrara.

"Couldn't be happier with how they've presented themselves," said Hardwick.

"I was really happy with what I saw today."

Young players completed a 2km time trial and then went into 90 minutes of ball work, with everyone in "ripping nick" according to their coach.

"Their endeavour is certainly there. The understanding and execution will come," he said.

"It always happens when a new system comes in, they probably overthink at the start.

"Once they understand the concepts and how they link together, they're going to become a lot more fluent as the season wears on.

"Our aim is to make finals and challenge for premierships. With the side we've got, we certainly think that's attainable."

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 21: Damien Hardwick speaks at a Gold Coast Suns AFL press conference announcing his signing as the new coach at Heritage Stadium on August 21, 2023 in Gold Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Hardwick spoke on the promising talent of the newly-arrived draft talent and the benefit of academies for Northern AFL clubs, after four Suns Academy players were drafted last week.

"These four kids might not be in the AFL system without the Academy," said Hardwick.

"The investment is incredible, the amount of time and effort put into it. To be honest, it caught me by surprise how much work goes into it."

Jed Walter, Ethan Read, Jake Rogers and Will Graham all have been in the Suns Academy for their junior pathways development, and last week all four were added to the Suns senior list as first-round draft selections.

"To have four kids that have primarily grown up here to play our great game is incredibly important to the success of the AFL in general," Hardwick said.

"I know there'll always be people that try to bring it down, but for the greater good of the game, it's an incredibly important part of the game moving forward.

Gold Coast talent Jed Walter in the 2023 Coates Talent League (Daniel Pockett/AFL Photos)

"If we want this sport, which it is in my opinion to be the greatest sport within Australia, we've got to continue to grow it in the northern markets, no question."

The Suns season will kick off their 2024 season on Saturday, March 9 against Richmond - Hardwick's former side - at Heritage Bank Stadium.