Travis Boak tries to get away from Sam Docherty. Picture: Sarah Reed
Travis Boak tries to get away from Sam Docherty. Picture: Sarah Reed

Exodus still hurting Lions, Suns: Lynch

FOR large chunks of last week's games the Lions and Suns looked set for big victories that would reinforce to their supporters and the greater AFL community that they were on the right track.

The Suns missed their captains in a first half, in which they should have put the Dogs away, only to be run over in the last quarter.

The Lions to a greater degree needed and all but deserved the win, going down in one of the season's best games

It was hard not to think that at this stage of both clubs' rebuilds, how handy some of those former Suns and Lions players that have left and are at opposition clubs would be at the moment.

Neither club will offer an excuse and rightly so are only looking forward but it did make me think, how many good players have gone and what sort of team they could form when fit.

There were many different reasons for the mass exodus of players over recent years and, given both clubs have new coaches and football departments, the fault for the retention problems cannot lie at the current regimes.

 

Tom Lynch. Picture: Richard Gosling
Tom Lynch. Picture: Richard Gosling
Aaron Hall. Picture: Alix Sweeney
Aaron Hall. Picture: Alix Sweeney

Only Tom Rockliff, whose dissatisfaction with Brisbane began well before Chris Fagan's time, chose to leave the current coach-football manager partnership.

With Tom Lynch and Aaron Hall weighing up their futures on the Gold Coast, the ranks of the departed could get another serious injection of class at the end of this year.

Both clubs have decided to rebuild through the draft and as I mentioned in this column two weeks ago, it is a path that cannot yield immediate results.

Lions youngster Cam Raynor is a No.1 draft pick who made a huge difference when he went onto the ball in the final quarter, but it is neither fair nor realistic to expect a first-year player to change the fortunes of a side overnight.

Jarrod Berry and Hugh McCluggage are in their second years with the Lions and progressing nicely but Brisbane's fortunes still rest largely on the form of Dayne Beams, Dayne Zorko and Daniel Rich.

It is the same story at the Suns.

Top 10 draft pick Callum Ah Chee came into the side for the first time this year at the weekend and immediately reminded everyone of his undoubted class.

Ah Chee is in his third year of an injury interrupted career and if he can achieve some continuity with his fitness should start to make a more regular impact on games.

Ben Ainsworth, pick No.4 in the 2016 draft also played his best game of the year.

But the consistency of performance this season is coming from Jack Martin, now in his fifth season and Touk Miller in his fourth, playing a support role to the club's first No.1 draft pick David Swallow.

Travis Boak tries to get away from Sam Docherty. Picture: Sarah Reed
Travis Boak tries to get away from Sam Docherty. Picture: Sarah Reed

While these highly rated draftees have undeniably bright futures, more depth across the two lists, especially in the midfield, would ease the load on young shoulders.

And it is in the midfield where the majority of the talent has departed.

Here is a side made up of former Lions and Suns, imagine if just two or three of them had remained and were determined to do so at each club, maybe Elliot Yeo, Sam Docherty and then Lachie Henderson up forward at Brisbane and Jaeger O'Meara, Adam Saad, Charlie Dixon or Gary Ablett at the Suns.

Whether trying to establish a new team or rebuild a team list, the loss of this amount of talent to other clubs is unexpected and frustrates many, but it reinforces why the progress to rise up the ladder has been slow.

Team that has left the Suns and Lions.   FB: Sam Docherty (Carlton) Trent McKenzie (Port Adelaide), Maverick Weller (St Kilda) HB: Ahmed Saad (Essendon), Lachie Henderson (Geelong), Elliott Yeo (West Coast) C: Jared Polec (Port Adelaide), Jaeger O'Meara (Hawthorn), Jack Redden (West Coast) HF: Josh Caddy (Geelong/Richmond), Tom Hickey (St Kilda), Harley Bennell (Fremantle) FF: Tom Rockliff (Port Adelaide), Charlie Dixon (Port Adelaide), Brandon Matera (Fremantle) Rucks: Zac Smith (Geelong), Gary Ablett (Geelong), Dion Prestia (Richmond) Int: From: Jack Crisp (Collingwood), James Aish (Collingwood), Jarrod Garlett (Carlton), Josh Green (Essendon), Josh Schache (Western Bulldogs), Billy Longer (St Kilda)

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