Noah Anderson and Touk Miller celebrate a goal during Gold Coast's clash against Richmond in Opening Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

IT HASN'T happened overnight, but Gold Coast co-captain Touk Miller now believes he is part of a midfield group the equal of any in the AFL.

Collectively, the Suns have achieved nothing yet, but with Miller and 2019 draftees Matt Rowell, Noah Anderson and Sam Flanders, they have a blue-collar engine room that is improving by the week.

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks sat up and took notice last Saturday night, lauding his opposition after losing by six points at People First Stadium.

"It was probably their workrate, their ability to get back – they're as good as I've seen for a while in that space," Nicks said.

"They work so hard."

Hard work is what Miller has built his 175-game career on. He was taken with the 29th pick in the 2014 AFL Draft and turned himself into a dual All-Australian and third-place finisher in the 2022 Brownlow Medal.

Touk Miller handballs during Gold Coast's clash against Richmond in Opening Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

For so long lauded as one of the most professional players in the competition, Miller has carried Gold Coast's midfield while his younger teammates matured.

But not anymore. He now has three mates to ride shotgun with, and three mates he says are his equal with their professionalism.

"They have really dialled into what works for them," Miller told

"'Rowelly' does plenty of stuff on the green mat (AstroTurf) working on his craft. Everyone wonders why he's so good inside the bubble, it's because he works on it flat stick.


"Sammy is unbelievably clean, really good laterally and moves the ball (well), but that's because he works on it flat out.

"Noah's the same, a really good runner, communication on the field is second to none, he's a really strong leader and makes really good decisions.

"I just love being part of a midfield that works hard both ways, is super reliable, trustworthy and hard. It's unreal."

Miller, Anderson and Flanders have all broken six minutes for the club's pre-season 2km time trial. Watch them live and it's obvious how quickly they retreat to help defenders and then explode with ball in hand to offer options for teammates.

Sam Flanders tackles Dion Prestia during Gold Coast's clash against Richmond in Opening Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Rowell is no slouch either. Not only is he one of the best contested ball players in the competition, but he's as mentally tough as anyone on the Suns' list.

The three young guns have just begun their fifth season in the AFL, and with young bull Bailey Humphrey are starting to build some genuine depth in the middle of the ground.

"You just build a culture of a midfield group that works both ways," Miller said.

"We've always been big on it, that we want to be a midfield group that doesn't have big egos and just does the work.

"If that means helping your defenders, that's what you do. If that means getting your hands dirty and winning the contest and fighting like we can to win the game, that's what we do.

"'Dimma' (coach Damien Hardwick) says you normally get drafted because of the offensive play, you get drafted off your talent … but that defensive side and working in a system is something that you have to learn and develop over time.

"The boys are second to none in that. I have full trust in their ability to do that."

Touk Miller kicks the ball during Gold Coast's clash against Richmond in Opening Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Rowell (29 disposals, including 20 contested and a goal), Anderson (35) and Miller (29, 10 clearances and nine tackles) split the AFL Coaches Association votes with eight apiece against the Crows, while Flanders (35) pinched two in a show of their collective influence.

Rowell has now racked up 41 clearances over his past three matches – the most recorded in a three-game span in history – and Miller says it's no surprise he is so good in confined spaces.

"He's brutal and detailed. They're the two words that sum him up," Miller said.

"He's really hard in the contest and his detail of his craft is second to none.

"He got a fair bit of flack getting done for holding the ball a bit when he was younger. He only gets done for holding the ball because he's trying too hard to get rid of it, and he's first to the ball.

Matt Rowell in action during the R1 match between Gold Coast and Adelaide at People First Stadium on March 16, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"To his credit he stuck to his guns and now he's getting the reward for that. He's one of the hardest blokes to get to the ground, and if you do, he's still trying to fight to get the ball out.

"He's as hard as they come and he's just going to get better and better."

Sunday's match against the Western Bulldogs in Ballarat is another test against a highly rated midfield, and one Miller can't wait to attack.

"This is a personal thing, but I feel like we've got one of the best midfields in the competition in terms of our workrate and ability to win the contest and win the outside ball. I think we can match it with any of the really good teams in the AFL," he said.

"I don't say that lightly because I know there's some really good midfields out there, but I really believe we have a strong midfield group and I'm looking forward to the damage we can do this year."