Old-fashioned hard work is behind Nick Holman's AFL second-coming, which is quietly building momentum despite Gold Coast's ongoing struggles.
Ten straight losses have blunted the Suns' promising 3-2 start to the season but the 23-year-old hasn't dropped his bundle after his surprise return to top flight football.
Holman was delisted in 2015 after nine games in two seasons for Carlton and spent the next two months weighing up his future.
He decided to head east to South Australia where he secured an electrical apprenticeship and put together two eye-catching seasons for Central Districts.
The Suns took a liking to him and he impressed enough in pre-season to earn a round one call-up.
Fifteen games later and Holman hasn't missed a match, averaging more than six tackles a game and kicking seven goals.
"I definitely didn't think I was going to play as much as I have, my expectation wasn't as high as it is now," he told AAP.
"The start to the year has been as good as I could've wished for, now it's about trying to win and do what I can for the team."
He knows it is his tackling and pressure that is keeping him in new coach Stuart Dew's good books, who commented after a second round win that he was someone who "plays like his life depends on it".
"It fits Stuey's game plan pretty well ... I had a meeting with him (before signing) and they seemed to like me, so that always helps," Holman said.
He says the side's inexperience is starting to show, especially with injuries to leaders like Pearce Hanley, Tom Lynch and Steven May, and that the losing streak is weighing on them.
"It does a bit, plays in the back of your mind a bit, but we've had a solid two months of training, everything's back to normal (after 10 away games to start the season), we've got no excuses," he said.
Having spent time playing in AFL-mad Victoria and South Australia, Holman is adamant the Suns belong in the conversation.
"I'd love to build a career here if I can extend my contract," Holman, who only signed a one-year deal, said.
"I reckon it's great here; it's hard to see from the outside but we're trying to build a brand where people want to come and watch us, but that comes with winning games."