Suns need to ‘play’ star man
GOLD Coast coach Guy McKenna may have to take some drastic action ... and play Gary Ablett in the last five games of the season.
Well, not actually 'play' him as such, but at least get him suited up and sit him on the bench - busted shoulder and all.
It might just have enough of a psychological effect on his young teammates to get them playing like they should be.
The Suns have now lost all seven games they've contested without their inspirational skipper, and could be 0-12 by season's end - and three or four wins short of that first finals campaign that beckoned when they were 7-2 and sitting third after 10 rounds.
Gold Coast hosts St Kilda on Saturday night, then meets Carlton (at Docklands), Port Adelaide (Carrara), Essendon (Docklands), and finally West Coast (Carrara).
The Suns showed in the final term against finals contender Collingwood (in round 16), after Ablett went off with that dislocated shoulder, they were capable of producing the goods without him being out on the field beside them.
But, they have since lost two games they were expected to win, against also-rans, the Bulldogs and Brisbane.
Is anyone going to expect them to win another ... even against the bottom-placed Saints?
With their season on the line and taking on their arch rivals, they were abysmal at the Gabba on Saturday night - as bad as the young Lions were impressive.
Supposedly mentally and physically refreshed after a week's break, Gold Coast produced arguably its worst first quarter, which is something considering some of the shellackings it was handed in its first couple of years.
The Suns didn't look interested as the Lions racked up 125 disposals to 35 (at 39% efficiency), 23 forward-50m entries to four, 22 marks to one, and 7.7 to 1.2 on the scoreboard.
Gold Coast has brought together a star-studded group of youngsters, but clearly they are not going to get by on talent alone.
It is now evident what the club is lacking are players - and maybe even a coach - who can provide some real in-your-face leadership ... not to mention a hard-nosed defensive midfielder.
As well as the obvious (Ablett), the Suns are missing the direction and toughness experienced players such as Campbell Brown and Nathan Bock brought when they were recruited by the fledgling club in 2010.
And the fact they allowed Tom Rockliff (a club-record 46 disposals), and Pearce Hanley (45) to run riot after letting young Bulldog Jackson Macrea (43) off the leash two weeks earlier, McKenna and his off-field team have failed to place enough importance on tagging when putting together what remains an incredibly promising outfit.
The Suns need only look at the classic confrontation later that night between heavyweights Hawthorn and Sydney - and even the fight Richmond put up in Perth (minus the gutless roundarm thrown by Tyrone Vickery anyway) - to see what is required at the top level.