Tom Berry kicks the ball during Gold Coast's clash against Hawthorn in round five, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

SOMETIMES all it takes is a new set of eyes.

For four previous seasons in the AFL, Tom Berry has been a fringe player, mustering 26 games as he fluctuated in, but mostly out, of Brisbane and Gold Coast teams.

However, the early stages of the Damien Hardwick era at the Suns are shaping up very differently for the popular 22-year-old.

He's only five games in, and is aware of how quickly things can turn, but Berry's ballistic playing style and Hardwick's love for speed and pressure seem like the perfect union.

Hardwick described the small forward's Opening Round performance against Richmond as one of the best six-disposal performances he had ever seen, such was the defensive pressure Berry exerted.

Speaking to in the wake of last Saturday night's victory over Hawthorn, Berry said it was his coach's belief that had helped him the most.

Tom Berry in action during Gold Coast's clash against Adelaide in round one, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

"I'm absolutely loving being coached by 'Dimma'," he said.

"He values everyone in the team equally, whether you're having two touches or 30, it doesn't matter to him, as long as you play your role and execute it, he's happy.

"It was a fresh start for everyone when he rolled in the door.

"It was really nice to have a new set of eyes. He's making his opinion on each player.

Damien Hardwick speaks to his players during the R4 match between Gold Coast and GWS at Adelaide Hills on April 7, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"He doesn't care about the things you might not be the best at, it's all about what you can bring and what you do really well that he focuses on.

"It gives you great confidence as a player that he backs what you can bring, and he's not fussed about the things you might struggle a bit with."

Berry's importance was captured perfectly late in the third quarter of the win over the Hawks.

After a long ball deep into Gold Coast's forward line spilled free, Berry raced past Jarman Impey and showed more desperation than Connor Macdonald to win the ground ball and then knock it back into the goalsquare for Ethan Read to soccer through.

He didn't get a statistic for it, but the first man former skipper David Swallow ran to congratulate was the No.16.


Berry said he thrives off the energy provided by his sidekick Nick Holman – the two exchanging messages the night before each match to rev each other up.

"It's all around our hunting and tackling and bringing the pressure and making it a real hostile environment in the forward line," he said.

"Me and 'Freck' (Holman) are pretty similar players. We love tackling and don't have a hell of a lot of polish – he's got more than me ­– but we get a bit of white line fever and the eyes light up when we can do a chase-down tackle."

Tom Berry tackles Lachlan Sholl during Gold Coast's clash against Adelaide in round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Providing Berry runs out against Sydney on Sunday, his sixth consecutive game will match the longest unbroken streak of his career.

"I've had a fair few ups and downs through my career, moving clubs to seek opportunity, so it's rewarding to feel really valued in this side … but I'm only five games into this season and very much finding my feet and trying to fill a role," he said.

"I want to put a full season together and cement my spot, and I don't believe I've done that yet.

"It's really nice to feel valued, but there's a hell of a lot of work to do to cement my spot, so I'm still hungry as to keep working at that."