The Courier-Mail

SEA­SON’S END BRINGS A FRESH S TART FOR THE SUNS. JUST ... DON’T BLOW IT

- AN­DREW HAMIL­TON

THE Suns should be hurt­ing this week.

Their sea­son will end on Satur­day and it has been a fail­ure. In­juries hurt, but the real wounds were self-in­flicted.

Any player who wakes next Mon­day morn­ing ex­cited about off-sea­son fes­tiv­i­ties should look in the mir­ror and ques­tion if they re­ally want to be an AFL foot­baller.

They should have been pre­par­ing for their first fi­nal.

If any are stupid enough to call a dealer this week to ar­range some party dust for an end-of-sea­son blow-out, they should by­pass the self-ex­am­i­na­tion and just give it away now.

The footy public and the AFL will not ac­cept another il­licit drugs scan­dal and the club can’t ei­ther.

Surely the rules this spring must be zero tol­er­ance.

We will learn more about the club and its play­ers in the next month than we have in the past six.

The first les­son comes this week when the lead­er­ship group present a plan for the off-sea­son to CEO An­drew Travis.

The Suns are do­ing ev­ery­thing they can to en­sure they do not have a re­peat of the mad­ness of last year which led to Karmichael Hunt’s ar­rest on drug charges, other Suns play­ers be­ing iden­ti­fied as co­caine users in po­lice re­ports and im­ages of Har­ley Ben­nell with lines of white pow­der splashed across the front page of news­pa­pers.

Football man­ager Mar­cus Ashcroft and coach Rod­ney Eade have spent the past month in dis­cus­sions with the club’s lead­er­ship group over what the post-sea­son cel­e­bra­tions might look like.

It is likely the tra­di­tional ‘‘Mad Mon­day’’ will be scrapped. Dress-ups, bus trips and ba­si­cally any ac­tiv­ity cen­tred around get­ting writ­tenoff will be binned.

“It won’t be like what has hap­pened in the past,’’ said Ashcroft.

“You can never be to­tally con­vinced you will get through this pe­riod un­scathed but be­cause of what we have been through and the dam­age it caused, we be­lieve they un­der­stand, and that gives us more con­fi­dence.

“Our lead­ers are driv­ing this.’’

The club was em­bar­rassed badly last year.

It de­fended its play­ers against spec­u­la­tion they were in­volved in Hunt’s end-of-sea­son binge, only to find it had been lied to.

That raises the stakes for any mess-ups this time round.

“Only time can build back that trust with the play­ers, and as a club our cred­i­bil­ity needs to be earned back too, we know that,’’ Ashcroft said.

The Suns have re­ceived un­con­firmed re­ports that media out­lets have pa­trolled Surfers Par­adise nightspots at times through­out the sea­son in the hope of catch­ing play­ers out par­ty­ing.

They ex­pect the crews to re­turn in force in the com­ing weeks.

“We will be tar­geted,’’ said Ashcroft.

‘‘We need to make sure we are pretty squeaky clean.’’

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 ??  ?? HOR­ROR SEA­SON: Har­ley Ben­nell had time out of the game af­ter an il­licit drugs scan­dal while Char­lie Dixon was sus­pended for drink­ing the night be­fore a game;; and (inset) coaches will try to keep Mad Mon­day events in check af­ter last year’s..
HOR­ROR SEA­SON: Har­ley Ben­nell had time out of the game af­ter an il­licit drugs scan­dal while Char­lie Dixon was sus­pended for drink­ing the night be­fore a game;; and (inset) coaches will try to keep Mad Mon­day events in check af­ter last year’s..
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