YOUNG Gold Coast forward Luke Russell is hoping hip surgery will allow him to excel in 2014, rather than simply struggle through.
The 21-year-old had cartilage re-attached to his hip bone and the bones shaved when the Suns' season finished, and admitted his hips slowed him down as the 2013 season drew to a close.
Russell will undergo a modified program when the Suns fly to Arizona for an altitude training camp on November 10, but he told the Gold Coast website his fitness wouldn't be an issue next year.
“I’ve decided to do it (the surgery) and make sure I can come back, have no issues next year at all and nothing hanging over my head with my hips and stuff," Russell said.
"I want to make sure I get them stronger over the pre-season and start next year on a good note with no injuries.”
“The coaches…want to see me put on some size, they are happy with my running ability, so I don’t think fitness will be an issue for me. I can ramp it up in a few weeks and hopefully get my fitness back.”
The Suns made significant progress as a side in 2013, advancing to 14th on the ladder after winning eight games.
Captain Gary Ablett said that with another pre-season under the young players' belts, the club would hope to push for a finals berth next year.
Russell echoed his skipper's thoughts claiming the Suns' most intense summer yet would be needed to ensure they continued their climb into the eight.
“I think finals is definitely our goal this year, but in saying that, every team are just going to be improving from this year," he said.
"Everyone has to get better individually as well for us to make finals next year so it won’t be easy, but everyone is up for the challenge.
“Every pre-season just gets bigger and bigger. The boys get older, their bodies mature more so we can endure more running and I think the boys are in for a real tough one.”
Russell will start the pre-season on the back of what he rated as his most consistent season of AFL football.
He's played 43 games since joining the Suns ahead of the 2011 season, including 18 in 2013.
While he’s happy with his progression, he insists there is more to come.
"It’s hopefully growing and there are signs that each year is getting better, but I am focused on having an even better year next year," he said.