Alex Sexton celebrates with fans after the match between Gold Coast and Richmond at People First Stadium in Opening Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

IT WASN'T how Alex Sexton envisaged his first conversation going with Damien Hardwick.

At the conclusion of last season, newly-appointed Hardwick sat in on Gold Coast's exit interviews to get to know his new playing group.

Sexton had been in and out of the senior team in 2023, playing eight games. The veteran goalsneak had played just 12 times in the previous two seasons.

After getting to know Sexton's "footy journey", the conversation moved.

"He said there would be a really strong opportunity to play a rebounding back role," Sexton told

"To be honest, I was excited.

"Here's a really experienced and successful coach coming in and seeing something in me I probably hadn't thought about.

"I was excited and saw it as a great challenge, and since then it's been full steam ahead."

Alex Sexton during Gold Coast's training session at Heritage Bank Stadium on February 19, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Sexton has made a living at the Suns from his goalkicking nous. From 2018 to 2021, he kicked 107 goals in 79 matches as part of a forward line that saw precious few opportunities.

However, he'd slowly fallen out of favour. Sexton said that was completely within his control and came as a result of some inconsistent form.

Hardwick's vision to flip him from the front half to the back had the 30-year-old energised.

"I had a new purpose," he said.

"A successful coach has a lot of confidence in you and sees something in you. That bounced me out of bed every pre-season session.

"I knew I wasn't playing the best footy I could, so to get a freshen up in a new role and feel like the coach saw me in a role, that excited me.

"It mentally freshened me up. I bounced out of bed knowing I was coming in for a new challenge every day and had something to prove."


After beginning his career at half-forward and on a wing before settling into the small forward's role, learning to play in the defensive 50 has been a big adjustment.

Sexton is quick, has a penetrating right foot kick, and loves to take the game on with run and a bounce.

He said veteran and good friend Sean Lemmens had been a big help over pre-season, while Sam Collins was a constant voice of support from behind on game day.

"In the two games I've been out there, I haven't felt alone one time on the field. That's been huge for me," he said.

Alex Sexton in action during the match between Gold Coast and Richmond at People First Stadium in Opening Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Sexton has gathered 21 and 17 disposals respectively in Gold Coast's two wins and shown flashes of what he can add to its backline, particularly in attack.

"The ability to defend hard one-on-one when it's your turn, that's been huge," he said.

"And then just challenging the opposition when we get our hands on it and really exploding on offence.

"That's why you could say I'm back there, to generate some offence."

It's what Hardwick saw before they first chatted last September, and now slowly but surely, Sexton is seeing it himself.