Brayden Fiorini poses for a photo during a Gold Coast media opportunity on March 4, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

BRAYDEN Fiorini didn't have to look far for advice on how to play as a wingman in Damien Hardwick's system.

After spending most of his first eight seasons trying to win a spot in Gold Coast's midfield, Fiorini has made a huge pre-season adjustment by moving to the outside.

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It's as big a change in role and expectations as anyone on the Suns' list.

And come Saturday, the 26-year-old will pit himself against the team Hardwick coached for almost 14 seasons, Richmond.

Learning to go from a ball-hunter to a structural organiser has been quite the shift, but Fiorini found the perfect sidekick to pick the brain of.

Shaun Grigg played a similar role for Hardwick late in his career and is now the Suns' midfield coach.

"'Dimma' said he saw a bit of Shaun Grigg in me," Fiorini told

Brayden Fiorini during the R15 match between Gold Coast and Hawthorn at Heritage Bank Stadium, on June 25, 2023. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

"He was a really smart footballer who saw the game well and might not have got as much recognition as the other blokes, but helped them in their premiership era.

"I've been feeding off him and trying to get as much knowledge out of him as possible.

"It's been really good watching vision with him and getting tips on what he used to do as a winger."

Even after 93 games since being drafted in 2015, it's been a steep learning curve for the Victorian.

Brayden Fiorini kicks the ball during Gold Coast's clash against Collingwood in round 16, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Fiorini has spent small stints on the wing in his career, but never had an extended run like he has this pre-season, and obviously never under Hardwick's model.

He said wingmen were recognised for far more than "kicks, marks and handballs".

"It is different," he said. "You've got to make the most of your opportunities, definitely, you don't get as many of them.

"I'd do anything for the team … and although it might not get as much recognition in the media, the coaches and players have been really good at acknowledging some stuff I'm doing and rewarding it, which is refreshing.

"Shaun Grigg and 'Dimma' really value setting the ground up, that perimeter. Whether we've got the ball and trying to open up pockets of space, or whether they've got the ball and we're setting up (defensively) behind our attack."


After pre-season losses to Brisbane and Greater Western Sydney, Fiorini said there was no panic ahead of facing Richmond this weekend.

"You want to be impatient and want to get results, but we've played two of the best teams in the competition and we've implemented a whole new system. 

"We do have to be realistic with the timing of it, but at the same time we've got to be impatient as well.

"A lot of it we can fix, it's in our control. We haven't lost any belief, that's for sure."