PEARCE Hanley is coming off a year he "wouldn't wish on anyone" but says he's ready to start fresh.

And the skilled Irishman says he can recapture his best form.

The newly-appointed Gold Coast leader endured the year from hell in 2017, starting with a return to Ireland to be with his younger brother Tommy who died of cancer at the age of 16.

Suns stick with guns in eight-man leadership group

It rocked Hanley, who played the opening round of the season against former club Brisbane knowing he would be on the next available flight out of Australia to spend Tommy's final days with him.

Upon returning to the Suns weeks later, Hanley then suffered an ankle injury in his first NEAFL game and did not return to the seniors until round 10.

For the rest of the season he was chasing his tail and playing inconsistent footy.

Things took a further twist in November when the 29-year-old broke his hand playing for Ireland in the International Rules Series.

Hanley told the year took a toll on him.

"Last year you wouldn't wish on anyone," Hanley said.

"Towards the end of the year we tried to make light of it because so much had gone wrong.

"We said 2018 was going to be my year and that's how I'm looking at it.

"I just see it as a fresh start.

"I've got a positive frame of mind and I'm excited for games to start and see this young group move forward."

Hanley has made a big impact in his 15 months at the Suns and was one of only two changes, along with ruckman Jarrod Witts, made to the leadership group to deputise for co-captains Tom Lynch and Steven May.

After a poor final year at the Lions in 2016, and last season's struggles, Hanley said he was more determined than ever to play well under new coach Stuart Dew.

"I've had a few lean years for obvious reasons and not-so-obvious reasons, but I definitely see some good football ahead of me that I'm excited to show everyone," he said.

"It kind of burns deep down a little bit.

"I don't need that to get me up to play but it is an incentive I use on days when you're not feeling so good on the training track.

"It lights the fire inside the belly.

"I use a lot of things as inspiration and that's one of them.

"I've had a great pre-season (after recovering from the broken hand), and I just can't wait for games to start."