GOLD Coast forward Sam Day is confident 2014 will be the year in which he makes his mark on the AFL.
Day has been asked to do more than most of his young teammates since being taken at No.3 in the 2010 NAB AFL National Draft, and admits to being "a bit slow" over the short journey.
It's commonly accepted that power forwards take longer to develop, but it's been even tougher than normal for the 21-year-old South Australian.
Day has consistently taken the opposition's best defender – usually years older and kilograms heavier – and has been provided sporadic service by a midfield often on the back foot.
It's all added up to 24 goals in 42 games, time spent in defence, and a steep learning curve.
But none of it has deterred the 196cm athletic beast, who was a star basketballer and baseballer as a junior, and took up Australian football at a late age.
Up until now, his brief AFL career has been all about learning.
"The biggest thing for me is watching how and where people run and what times, just trying to get that movement and fluency in my game," Day said.
"I'm trying to learn how to play the game as a key forward. I used to play at school and it was 'do whatever you want'.
"Learning the game at AFL standard has been really good for me. The little things like getting separation for yourself, all the little techniques."
Day said one of his best experiences was watching Geelong and Hawthorn go toe-to-toe at the MCG in a Friday night game in 2012.
He said watching Tom Hawkins, Lance Franklin and Jarryd Roughead in person had been an invaluable experience.
Day also has Suns' director of coaching Malcolm Blight and veteran assistant coach Mark Riley to lean on for advice.
Despite his relative inexperience, Day is hopeful that with a fit Tom Lynch and Charlie Dixon, they can form a formidable three-pronged forward line for Gold Coast.
Having the trio on the park at the same time has been a rare luxury for coach Guy McKenna, with injuries dogging all of them at various stages.
"If we can share the load between the tall forwards, you'll see us go a long way this year," Day said.
"I need to make sure I can keep providing for the team, kick a few goals and be that presence up forward that we're missing at the moment.
"Learning over the last couple of years has been the biggest thing for me.
"This year will see everyone improve again as a squad and hopefully I'll do the same and have a couple of those special moments where I can get some confidence in myself and then start stringing those games together and being more consistent.
"If we have a full season where the whole team is fit, I reckon we'll be pretty scary and exciting to watch."