OF ALL the performances on day one of Gold Coast's pre-season that impressed, it was out-of-favour midfielder Will Brodie who captured the most attention.
Brodie ran a huge 30-second personal best in his 2km time trial to put an exclamation point on a rocky 2020.
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The 22-year-old played just one senior game for the season – in the opening round – to take his total to just 20 matches over four years.
The Suns were then open to entertaining trade offers for the former No.9 draft pick despite him having two years to run on his contract.
Gold Coast wanted to keep him but Brodie was restless and wanting more opportunities, so the two parties co-operated.
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It's fair to say the offers didn't flood in though, ensuring Brodie – who is a popular member of the team and is happy in the environment – would return for 2021.
And return he has, in the best physical condition of his life.
Part of the knock on the contested ball magnet in the early stages of his career has been his inability to get from contest to contest, to run out games.
During his off-season, Brodie shed five kilograms and worked tirelessly on his running.
As he crossed the finish line at Somerset College early in December to complete his time trial, the significance was not lost on his teammates, who almost to a man (well, those who had finished) let out a cry of euphoria before going to ruffle Brodie's head with excitement.
They knew how hard 'Whiz' had worked during his break and what it would mean to him.
"I've never been a gifted aerobic runner," Brodie told AFL.com.au.
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"It's something that's always been on the list to work on.
"Over the off-season we targeted that and narrowed the focus to get it as good as possible.
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"We came up with a plan and I cut four or five kilos off.
"We ran over the off-season heaps. It was the main focus for me. To come back and get a good result was good reward for that effort."
Brodie has been caught in a midfield logjam, with Hugh Greenwood and Matt Rowell adding to the congestion last year that already included skipper Dave Swallow and reliable Touk Miller.
Coach Stuart Dew said at the end of last season he hoped Brodie could develop into a Mitch Wallis-type player, capable of playing forward as well as onball.
"My body has matured a lot," Brodie said. "I feel like I'm able to back up sessions more, I'm able to train at a higher intensity than I could my first few years.
"Making the decision to cut weight has really helped. I haven't been this light since I was 18 or 19.
"Carrying less weight around has been a tough thing to do but a great decision.
"It's just been a calorie-counting, nutrition thing. I've lost a bit of muscle, but I've lost a bit of fat as well. I've sacrificed that bit of size to improve my ability to run."
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Brodie admitted to being frustrated the past three seasons with a lack of senior footy but said the club's willingness to co-operate with his trade exploration was not a "lightbulb moment" to train harder.
"I love it here. I haven't played a lot of games, but I feel as a player I've continued to develop and improve," he said.
"Hopefully this will be my year."