FORMER number one draft pick David Swallow has opened up about what keeps him with Gold Coast when many of his mates have left.
Including the year he was granted special permission to play with the Suns in the VFL as a 17-year-old, Swallow is in his ninth year at Carrara – all of them losing seasons.
And while the likes of Dion Prestia, Jaeger O'Meara and Gary Ablett have all departed, and Harley Bennell, Charlie Dixon, Brandon Matera and Trent McKenzie have been moved on, Swallow has prevailed.
There's just eight Suns players left from Gold Coast's inaugural list, and with restricted free agent Tom Lynch predicted to join the departed, that number could be even less in a few months' time.
But Swallow says there's a number of reasons why he has remained loyal.
"It can be tough," Swallow told AFL.com.au.
"It's just the challenge of it all. Trying to prove people wrong and make this club successful.
"That's what still gets me up every morning.
"It's still the challenge of getting better myself as a player and get the team as a whole better."
Swallow is the heart and soul of the Suns, a bull-at-a-gate midfielder who has overcome persistent knee problems during his young career.
He could be forgiven for looking for a lighter workload at another club, but the 25-year-old says it's not something he's thought about.
"Everyone's got different reasons as to why they've moved on, but for me personally I like living on the Gold Coast," he said.
"You have a certain loyalty to the club in terms of what they've given to me and my family.
"I'm certainly committed to try and help the club and get the success that everyone that has been here a long time deserves.
"Being here so long, you just want to see the place go well and be a part of history.
"I'm trying to leave this place a better place than when I first arrived."
Now with 112 games alongside his name, Swallow will himself be a restricted free agent at the end of the 2019 season.
He says this season has been frustrating but he's seen enough to believe a change in fortunes isn't far away.
"You obviously want to be winning games.
"It's definitely a grind. Most people know AFL can be a grind like any job, but it's that challenge that excites me.
"You've seen glimpses this year of what we're capable of, so we have to be a more consistent.
"There's definitely a good core to work with and in terms of the way 'Dewy' (coach Stuart Dew) is coaching us, it's the right way, a brand that will stand up in finals footy, we believe.
"The pieces are there, we've got to start putting it together."