Damien Hardwick looks on during Gold Coast's AAMI Community Series clash against Greater Western Sydney on February 29, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

DAMIEN Hardwick has warned it will take time for Gold Coast to master his system, but says that's no excuse against former club Richmond on Saturday in a performance he expects to set the scene for an improved 2024.

The Suns enter Opening Round off the back of underwhelming pre-season losses against Brisbane and Greater Western Sydney as they slowly adapt to Hardwick's model.

However, the three-time premiership coach is not concerned, saying the recent examples of Craig McRae at Collingwood in 2022 and Adam Kingsley at the Giants last year were pertinent to keep in mind.

"We do have to remember it is a long season," Hardwick said on Thursday morning.

"We've got great history with regard to GWS and Collingwood that have gone through a similar journey to us, play a relatively similar game style that did take a little bit of time to click, but when they did get it, all of a sudden they did get on a roll.

"We hope we're in a similar boat, we hopefully get there a little earlier.

Damien Hardwick during Gold Coast's 2024 team photo day. Picture: AFL Photos

"We know it will be a bit up and down at various stages, but we've got to ride the bumps and we'll get better as the year progresses."

The Magpies and Giants made preliminary finals in McRae and Kingsley's first seasons respectively.

Although admitting to some anxiety and nervousness ahead of facing the Tigers, Hardwick said there was no extra edge in the mouth-watering match-up.

He expects Gold Coast to put on a strong performance at what is expected to be a sold-out Heritage Bank Stadium.

"It's about setting the scene," he said.


"We're not going to be at our very best early, but you don't want to be playing your best footy now.

"We want to be playing a standard that will get the win, but we understand our best footy is well and truly still in front of us.

"The fundamentals of the game haven't changed. If you win the ball and get it going forward your way, it'll be a good result, and then you pressure the ball behind it, it's going to be a better result."