Cult hero elevated straight into Suns' new-look leadership group

SARAH Perkins has well and truly settled into new club Gold Coast, with the premiership Crow joining the leadership group after her first pre-season.

The 27-year-old joined the Suns through the 2020 NAB AFLW Draft, after spending the start of the year with Melbourne as an injury replacement player.

The powerful forward played for Adelaide from 2017 to 2019.

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Perkins joins Jamie Stanton and Jade Pregelj in the leadership group, working alongside a new co-captain combination in Sam Virgo and Hannah Dunn. Veteran tall Leah Kaslar led alongside Virgo last year.

"It's been pretty daunting coming up from Melbourne, living a normal life and forgetting about COVID-19, meeting 29 new people and and learning a new game style," Perkins told womens.afl.

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"I've loved pre-season up here, the weather thankfully hasn't been too bad, I haven't spent too many Saturdays as a lobster after training, it's been really fun.

"Part of the reason of deciding to nominate up here was the chance to work with a younger group. My game knowledge and footy sense can help them.

"I've worked on my leadership for a little bit at (VFLW side) Hawthorn. It was a focus to come in and help the inexperienced girls and pass on some knowledge, but it wasn't an explicit aim to come in and make the leadership group."

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Perkins is set to form a dangerous on-field combination with All-Australian forward Kalinda Howarth and has struck up a friendship with the exciting youngster.

"It's been good fun with 'Kindy', she's a funny one. She can be a bit annoying at times, but we mess around with each other and we seem to have a fair bit of connection at training, so hopefully that rolls into games," she said.

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"We're always joking around with each other and trying to kick goals from anywhere at training, make it a bit of a competition.

"We both joke about who's going to get the best defender. 'Kindy' is a very different player to me, she brings the x-factor, and I'm more structured and run to where I need to be."

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Gold Coast fell 17 points short of cross-town rivals Brisbane in a practice match on Saturday, Perkins' first opportunity to have a competitive hitout in a Suns jumper.

"I woke up really nervous, and it was just a practice match. I wasn't the only one either, a lot of the girls were saying, especially the first-year Suns," she said.

Sarah Perkins is already loving life in the sun on the Gold Coast. Picture: AFL Photos

"It was a bit scrappy for the first little while, but we started to show a little bit of composure and continuity towards the end of the game. We'll fix up a couple of things and hopefully be set for round one in a couple of weeks.

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"It was probably some of our younger girls who really stood out for me. Daisy D'Arcy played really well off half-back, Lucy Single got a good run in the midfield, Lauren Bella put some of her ruck craft to work and Jade Pregelj and Loz Ahrens set the standard in defence.

"They're very athletic, I'm learning off them. It's nice and refreshing, they're all pretty new to footy, so they bring a different vibe, a lot of fun and enjoyment."