Damien Hardwick during Gold Coast's training session at Austworld Centre Oval on May 1, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

ONE MAN that understands what Brisbane and its coach Chris Fagan is going through to start this season is Sunday night's counterpart, Gold Coast mentor Damien Hardwick.

Fagan and his Lions have been under the microscope in the past week since losing to Greater Western Sydney by 54 points and dropping to 2-5 in a year they are expected to push for a premiership.

Ahead of his first QClash in charge of the Suns, Hardwick said his current team was trying to emulate Sunday's opponent.

"'Fages' is the ultimate competitor," Hardwick said.

"The industry we're in, we know that (pressure) is going to come at some stage, it'll happen to us at various stages as well.

"Having known Chris for a long period of time, he's very resolute … he knows what makes a good footy club, and that's what they are.

"He'll be bunkering down doing a power of work to get this side responding as best they can, and we just hope it's not this week against us."

Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson during Gold Coast's training session at Austworld Centre Oval on May 1, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Hardwick coached Richmond for 13 full seasons, winning three premierships in a four-year stretch, saying it is difficult to maintain a high level for so long.

"They've been playing the same way under Fages for about the past five years and what they've done has kept them in good stead for a long period of time, made top four and been a side that we're trying to become … a side that consistently makes finals," he said.

"They’ve been a good side for a long period of time.

"You have complete faith in your playing group, but then there's the fact you need to regenerate and rejuvenate at some stage and look, Chris and (football manager) Danny Daly and those guys up there have a really good understanding of what that is."

Hardwick said a lot of Brisbane's metrics in 2024 were just as good as previous seasons and he expected them to "breathe fire" on Sunday.

Gold Coast has rested second-year midfielder Bailey Humphrey, with the Lions bringing in debutant Bruce Reville.

Hardwick said he was excited about his first Queensland derby, pointing to last season's most recent battle as an example of why it meant so much to both clubs.

"Obviously, I wasn’t here, but the game itself was quite spiteful, rough, aggressive - that's the way you want those games played," he said.

"You want it to mean something to the players. We want to be Kings of the North."