BEN AINSWORTH has jumped more than a few hurdles over his short career, but one thing the Gold Coast small forward has never lacked is confidence.

The former No.4 draft pick had an assortment of injuries over his first four seasons, and just when his body got some continuity in 2021, form deserted him.

After a solid start to the season, Ainsworth was dropped following a round nine shellacking by Brisbane.

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A star at junior level, and selected whenever he was fit to that stage of his career, it was something new for the powerful 24-year-old.

"It was a turning point in my career," Ainsworth told

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"It's a little bit of a shock. It's the first time I've ever been dropped in my career.

"It was a bit daunting at first, but I had the right people around me to guide me through that.

"I had to stick to what I know and play football freely.

"I never lost any confidence."


Over the past 18 months Ainsworth has tried to free his mind, not overthink training or games, and just go out there and do what he does best.

It's a mindset he implemented when Stuart Dew recalled him in round 15 last year following some strong form at VFL level.

Dew was repaid almost immediately, as Ainsworth was a pivotal part of the Suns' upset win over Richmond, then kicking three goals in a narrow loss to the Western Bulldogs and generally finishing the season in a good patch of form.

Gold Coast's Ben Ainsworth poses for a photo on March 22, 2022. Picture: Getty Images/AFL Photos

He's started 2022 just as well, kicking two goals and setting up two more from his 18 disposals against West Coast in Perth last Sunday.

"Once I got back in the senior side I felt a sense of freedom," Ainsworth said.

"It's been a focus of mine to get some continuity in terms of my body and being able to train week in and week out.

"Being able to play football at the highest level is all I've ever wanted. Being able to continue to do that is great."