Brandon Ellis and Nick Vlastuin at Kurrawa Beach on March 8, 2024 ahead of the Opening Round clash between Gold Coast and Richmond. Picture: AFL Photos

GOLD Coast winger Brandon Ellis admits there will be "ups and down" as the Suns learn the gameplan of new coach Damien Hardwick.

The Suns, who are searching for an elusive maiden finals appearance, begin a new era on Saturday when they host Richmond at their recently renamed People First Stadium.

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In a sell-out clash, Hardwick will start his highly anticipated stint up north against the club he quit after nearly 14 seasons during the middle of last year.

Gold Coast was unconvincing in its pre-season hitouts, leading many to question if it will endure a slow start to life under Hardwick.

But against the Tigers, who are missing superstar Dustin Martin, key forward Tom Lynch and captain Toby Nankervis, the Suns enter the match as warm favourites.

Ellis won two premierships under Hardwick's coaching before heading to Gold Coast for the 2020 season.

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

"All the boys, I guess besides me, they're trying to learn a new gameplan," the 30-year-old told reporters on Friday.

"It's going to take time. We're going to have our ups, we're going to have our downs.

"But as (Hardwick) said, it's long season, a bit of a marathon.

"But hopefully the boys can learn pretty quick and we can start to see some success and then continue into September."

Ellis said Hardwick had been "pretty calm" this week but even the three-time premiership coach himself admitted to some nerves.

"Obviously he's only human so there's probably going to be a little bit of nerves," he said.

"He coached those (Richmond) guys for so many years so he's obviously going to have a soft spot for them."

Damien Hardwick with his players during Gold Coast's clash with GWS in the 2024 AAMI Community Series. Picture: AFL Photos

Star Richmond defender Nick Vlastuin was looking forward to trying get one over Ellis and Hardwick, as well as Tigers premiership player Shaun Grigg, who joined the Suns as an assistant coach from Geelong this year.

"I think you always want to beat your mates a little bit more so you can hold one over them," Vlastuin said.

It won't just be Gold Coast trying to contend with a new system.

The premiership cup is seen next to a sand sculpture during a 2024 Opening Round media opportunity at Kurrawa Beach on March 8, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Adem Yze will coach Richmond for the first time in a home and away match after being announced as Hardwick's full-time successor last September.

"Some Gold Coast players are still playing the way (former Suns coach) Stuart Dew taught them," he said.

"So that dynamic will be interesting; they're still learning their gameplan and we're still adjusting to the way that we want to play."

The former Melbourne champion will coach from the box, but Yze has not ruled out leading from the sidelines later in the season.