Damien Hardwick on August 21, 2023 after his unveiling as Gold Coast's new coach. Picture: Getty Images

DAMIEN Hardwick says he is not "the messiah" taking Gold Coast to the promised land, but believes the Suns have 80 per cent of their premiership list in place as he embarks on a six-year deal.

Speaking for the first time after being announced as the club's new coach on Monday, Hardwick said his exciting list would play a brazen style of football in 2024 as it seeks to climb the ladder.

He added that Gold Coast's football department was "pretty set", paying tribute to interim coach Steven King and his assistants for the job they've done since taking over from sacked predecessor Stuart Dew.


Hardwick also kept the door open for an approach to contracted Tiger Dustin Martin, but said "at this stage" he couldn't see Trent Cotchin or Jack Riewoldt being required.

But on a landmark day for the Suns, their triple-premiership signing said he was "very very excited" to make the move north.

"I likened it to waking up on Christmas Day and walking out to a set of brand new toys, which is very exciting," Hardwick said.

"We're capable of doing some special things.

"I'm very much looking forward to coaching these young men and taking us to where we need to go, and that's to raise our first premiership cup, which I'm pretty sure will be in the not-too-distant future."

Hardwick left Richmond mid-season, citing burnout, and clarified in his press conference that he had given everything in his 13-plus seasons at the Tigers.

They needed a new voice, he said, and the "career coach" needed a new challenge.

After sacking Dew in July, the Suns approached Hardwick while he was on holidays in Italy.

"I went through the playing list and looked at that and how exciting it is," he said.

"Eighty per cent of our first premiership side is sitting in this room, right now.

"There'll be a few bits added along the way, but the fact of the matter is this side and this club are very capable of saluting in the not too distant future."

Gold Coast CEO Mark Evans, coach Damien Hardwick and chairman Bob East on August 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

With Gold Coast players and staff in attendance, Hardwick said he had not spoken to his former Port Adelaide premiership teammate Dew since his sacking, adding it was a cut-throat business.

"I'm very confident in the footy department we've managed to bring together. That, with the playing group is the reason I'm here," he said.

"I'm not the messiah, I'm part of the puzzle.

"I think every year we're gunning for finals, there's no question about that. I'm not putting a ceiling on this group.


"I look at these guys, they've got incredible strengths, they're here for a reason.

"Let's unleash those, let's make sure we've got a game style that we can implement that brings out the strengths of our players. Fast, dynamic footy I love.

"It's about being really brazen offensively, (and) defence being really hard to score against."

And Dusty?

Hardwick laughed when asked about the possibility of the three-time Norm Smith medallist heading north to join him.

"He's a contracted player at Richmond. All I want to do at the moment is sit back and enjoy the moment I've got here, my first day at Gold Coast.

"List management decisions will come in due course."