Lucy SIngle during Gold Coast's training session at Metricon Stadium on October 11, 2022. Picture: Getty Images

OF ALL the reasons Gold Coast has vaulted into this season's finals series, the emergence of Lucy Single as one of the competition's premier run-with players is right near the top.

After being pitched the idea by coach Cameron Joyce during the pre-season, Single has taken to the role like a duck to water, quelling the influence of some of the game's best players, and in the process helping her team to fifth place on the ladder.

Not only is the freakishly athletic Sun mastering how to quieten her opponents, but as she did against Essendon's Maddy Prespakis last Friday night, she's damaging the other way.

Prespakis had gathered 17 disposals by half-time, but with a finals spot up for grabs, Single put on the clamps, limiting the former League best and fairest to just three touches after the break while marauding to a game-high 25 of her own.

"At half-time I was aware she'd had a fair few touches," Single told during the week.

"I knew I probably had the fitness over her, and I needed to continue being physical.

"I just needed a re-set at half-time to get the job done."


That answer alone was a little window into Single's mindset. She's not fazed by a slow start, an opponent having a good patch or even a few mistakes of her own.

The marriage of her mental approach with her physical gifts has ensured the 21-year-old has become an integral part of a midfield that is already one of the competition's most rounded.

Single is arguably the strongest player on the list, right near the top for both squatting and the bench press.

She is also in the handful of quickest and in the top five over the 2km time trial.

It's an all-around package that's hard to match.

Single said she was keen to give it a go as soon as Joyce floated the idea.

"He mentioned the role, and to be honest I fell in love with it straight away," she said.

"I definitely consider myself a defensive midfielder, so it's a role suited to me. It was an opportunity to crack the midfield and bring my footy IQ to the next level."

The challenges have come thick and fast.

Single has stood Bri Davey, Ellie Blackburn, Ebony Marinoff, Mon Conti, Ally Anderson and Prespakis through the season, and although Anderson lowered her colours in a QClash loss, Single has held her own, and often beaten, the who's who of midfielders.

"I've definitely learnt some little tips and tricks along the way," she said.

"All the best players in the comp are not the same size, they all play very differently.

"I think I've learned how to adapt and adjust. Even each quarter just learning how to adapt and adjust.

"I can't be shutting them down all the time. I'm trying my best, but sometimes they get away from me and it's just about how I can adjust every quarter.

"That's been a big lesson for me.

"Usually the first call is to be defensive. The great thing about being defensive is it takes you to the ball.

"If I can be defensive, I'll usually end up with the ball. They're the best players in the comp, they know where the ball's going to go.

"If I'm stopping them, the ball will usually fall out and that’s when I can pick it up."

Lucy Single during the match between Adelaide and Gold Coast at Unley Oval in round five, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Single has formed a nice chemistry with breakout star Claudia Whitfort, injured Charlie Rowbottom, veteran Alison Drennan and Richmond recruit Maddy Brancatisano.

She again looms as a crucial cog against the Swans, so whether it's ball-magnet Laura Gardiner or star midfielder-turned-forward Chloe Molloy – or a combination of both – you can bet Single will be making life difficult for whichever player she is assigned.