Brandon Ellis and Touk Miller celebrate after the R20 match between Gold Coast and Brisbane at Heritage Bank Stadium on July 29, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

FOLLOWING the toughest season of his career, Gold Coast winger Brandon Ellis says getting Damien Hardwick back into his football life has him loving the game again.

Ellis, who is entering the final season of a five-year deal with the Suns, has been reunited with Hardwick, the man he won two premierships under at Richmond before heading north on the lengthy contract.

Although his first three seasons went well individually, last year had its challenges as the 30-year-old first suffered injury and was then dropped by former coach Stuart Dew.

"I was a bit stale last year," Ellis told

"I probably had my toughest year, mentally and physically.

"Getting Dimma back and making the place a fun environment again has rejuvenated me."

Brandon Ellis in action during a Gold Coast training session in 2024. Picture: Gold Coast FC

Ellis said their four-year absence as player and coach has gone by "bloody quick" and that it took him a week or two to readjust to Hardwick's terminology when implementing the Suns' new gameplan.

"It feels like we never left each other," Ellis said with a smile.

"You can come in and be yourself. You don't have to walk around on eggshells or with anxiety. 

"You can just be a normal human and be yourself, which is when I think you're going to get the best out of one another.

"From what I remember at the Tigers he's pretty similar. There's a bit of a spring in his step. He just looks refreshed."

Damien Hardwick and Brandon Ellis embrace after the AFL Grand Final between Richmond and GWS on September 28, 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

And that goes for Ellis too. Always among the front-runners in the club's 2km time trial, he has been held back a touch during the pre-season so he peaks physically a little later than normal.

"I know what my role is this year," he said.

"Everything I do on the field is in my control. Whether I play week in and week out is up to me, it's not relying on stats or anything else.

Brandon Ellis in action during the R18 match between Gold Coast and St Kilda at Heritage Bank Stadium on July 15, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

"I know going out there every week that if I do this, this and this, I'll play the week after and it'll help us to win games.

"But if I don't, it's because I haven't adhered to what my role is. Everything is so clear.

"I feel refreshed and love footy again."