Ben Ainsworth celebrates a goal in the round 15 clash between Port Adelaide and Gold Coast on June 26, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

IF ONE Gold Coast player is built for Damien Hardwick's high-octane brand of footy, it's Ben Ainsworth.

About to enter his eighth season at the Suns, Ainsworth finally has some genuine continuity with his body and is putting together another strong pre-season.

After battling injury early in his career, the 25-year-old has played 52 of Gold Coast's past 54 matches and become one of its most reliable players.

Still just weeks weeks into the Hardwick era, it's clear the Suns will look to transition the ball with greater speed in 2024, which – with everything going well – means more opportunities for their run-and-gun half-forward.

Ainsworth is not only a strong endurance athlete, but has terrific repeat speed that allows him to zip between the forward line and wing whether with the ball or without.

"Our training has been really short, sharp and intense," Ainsworth told

Ben Ainsworth kicks for goal during the R20 match between Gold Coast and Brisbane at Heritage Bank Stadium on July 29, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"The more we can focus on our strengths, the better we're going to be. Dimma has brought that in from the get-go. I think we're in for a good 2024."

And what that means for Ainsworth has some similarities to the past two years, with a twist.

Since being taken with the No.4 pick in the 2015 AFL Draft, the Victorian has played a variety of roles before settling in at half-forward.


It's a position he's made his own, finishing in the top 10 in the past two best and fairests.

"I'll be playing a similar role, but with the potential to come up to stoppages, which is pretty exciting for me because I think that's where I can get better as a player, going into the contest," he said.

"The more I can do that, as well as play my half-forward role, I think I can add a few strings to my bow.

"There's been a lot of challenges along the way in terms of learning new positions. Last year I was playing wing and I played inside in my third or fourth year. I've been tested and trialled in a few different areas.

"It'll be good to get some continuity in training (in the one spot) and bring it into games in 2024."