DOWN, BUT NOT OUT: Gary Ablett looks dejected as he walks from Metricon Stadium after the Suns’ big loss to Melbourne.
DOWN, BUT NOT OUT: Gary Ablett looks dejected as he walks from Metricon Stadium after the Suns’ big loss to Melbourne. JASON O'BRIEN

League won’t let the Suns go down

TALK about an overreaction to the Suns and its skipper Gary Ablett.

You gotta love 'Lethal' Leigh Matthews, but the man who also went by the name Barney (as in Rubble) must have rocks in his head when it comes to the new franchise.

The four-time premiership coach put Brisbane on the AFL map, but reckons Gold Coast should be stripped from it - because Queensland simply isn't big enough for both Lions and Suns, in terms of generating interest, not available space.

But, the idea of removing the Suns is as ridiculous as the one from the early-1990s that had Brisbane merging with Sydney to create the East Coast Bears.

That was never going to happen - and from winning four-straight wooden spoons (1991-1994), Brisbane and Sydney went on to appear in every grand final from 2001-2006.

Lethal may be angling for another merger - wouldn't he love Tom Lynch in a Lions jumper.

But, in case you hadn't realised, love it or hate it, the AFL is all about progression, not regression - and greats such as Matthews, even if he's got his Lions vice-president hat on, need to be supportive of the bigger picture.

You could argue a team from Tasmania should have been admitted before any north of the Murray River, but what's done is done.

And while Matthews was right to say there wasn't demand for a second team in Queensland, the AFL believed supply would create demand for the game, not just in and around the country's biggest growth area, but also in the club's zone areas such as far north Queensland.

And certainly the state as a whole is producing good numbers when it comes to participation from grassroots level up, having grown by 82% since the Suns were admitted in 2011, while local AFL draftees hit an all-time high of 11 in 2015.

But, yes, the AFL will be desperate to see the Suns - and Lions for that matter - consistently competitive and pushing for finals to really solidify their relevancy to the competition and the state.

However, blaming Ablett - or the acquisition of Ablett - for the club's on-field woes, which has been the case this week, is also laughable.

Returning from a serious shoulder injury, the 32-year- old superstar should have been allowed to ease back in the forward pocket. Instead he's back at the coalface due to the Suns' ongoing injury crisis, which in turn has exposed the real recruiting flaw - midfield depth.

The Suns did not err in attracting the best player in the game at 27 years of age - at the very least, he's been great as a role model for young footy fans in Queensland and teammates at the club.

But, the Suns did err in not stockpiling big-bodied midfielders like the GWS Giants and Melbourne have.

And you can't help fear for the Suns if the likes of Jaeger O'Meara and Dion Prestia (both out of contract at year's end) fail to re-commit.

But, it doesn't mean putting the entire club in old 'too-hard basket'.

And, Lethal, Queensland clubs have actually registered as many wins as West Australian clubs this season.


Mitch Hallahan (foot)

Steven May (suspension)

Trent McKenzie (ankle)

Jaeger O'Meara (knee)

Michael Rischitelli (shoulder)

Matt Rosa (hamstring)

Alex Sexton (arm)

David Swallow (knee)

Rory Thompson (ankle)

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