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