Ablett in­jury blow to Suns

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - AN­DREW HAMIL­TON

THE Brumbies face an almighty task to tame Su­per Rugby at­tack­ing mae­stros the Hur­ri­canes in tonight’s sud­den- death quar­ter- fi­nal in Can­berra.

With star All Blacks fiveeighth Beau­den Bar­rett re­turn­ing, the Hur­ri­canes have named a stronger team than in last week’s de­feat of the the­nun­beaten Cru­saders.

The Welling­ton- based club have set new Su­per Rugby scor­ing records this sea­son, with 89 tries and 586 points at an av­er­age nudg­ing 40 a game.

The Brumbies will take heart from their strong de­fen­sive record, hav­ing con­ceded the third- least points dur­ing the reg­u­lar sea­son de­spite los­ing nine of their 15 matches.

But with so many at­tack­ing weapons, the Hur­ri­canes are hot favourites.

While Brumbies cap­tain Sam Carter is rel­ish­ing their un­der­dog sta­tus, Hur­ri­canes coach Chris Boyd is back­ing his ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers to snuff out any signs of com­pla­cency within the group.

“I don’t think you write any team off in a play­off,” Boyd said. “I don’t think there’s any chance of us tak­ing them lightly.”

With Carter on the verge of a fifth- con­sec­u­tive fi­nals cam­paign with the Brumbies, he painted a pic­ture of a club con­stantly out to si­lence doubters through over- achieve­ment.

“That’s why we came down to Can­berra – for the op­por­tu­nity to be the un­der­dogs with a point to prove,” Carter said.

If the Brumbies are to find a way through the Hur­ri­canes – whose de­fen­sive record has only been eclipsed by the lad­der- top­ping Lions – the scrum and li­ne­out bat­tle will be para­mount.

“We need to play to our strength which is our set­piece,” Carter said.

Play­ers and fans will brave freez­ing con­di­tions, with an overnight low of - 6C fore­cast. GOLD Coast have suf­fered an­other in­jury blow with Gary Ablett again suc­cumb­ing to his dodgy ham­string.

Ablett has been in and out of the side for a month, miss­ing away games against St Kilda, which was to be his 300th, and Syd­ney and play­ing the Kan­ga­roos and Colling­wood. He failed a test yes­ter­day. The Suns now head to Cairns to pay the Bull­dogs with Ablett, co- cap­tain Steven May ( ham­string) and mid­fielder Jar­ryd Lyon ( an­kle) all side­lined.

Key de­fender Rory Thomp­son is also in doubt with a back in­jury while co- cap­tain Tom Lynch will carry an in­jury into the game.

Lynch has ap­peared re­stricted in his abil­ity to jump for his marks in the past month but Suns coach Rod­ney Eade said in­jury was not the rea­son for his drop in form.

“He has had a bit of a hip, he hasn’t trained much this week and has had an in­jec­tion to ease some problems there,’’ he said. “He is all right to play. “I think he has got his hands to the ball a lot, he just hasn’t held on to them.

“Whether that is af­fect­ing his mind­set I’m not too sure but he is cer­tainly not mak­ing any ex­cuses and he has had enough op­por­tu­ni­ties to mark the ball. He just hasn’t marked as well as he has in the past.’’

The Suns have se­lected num­ber seven draft pick Jack Scrimshaw to make his de­but.

“He will be play­ing,’’ Eade con­firmed.

“His form has been pretty good. We thought about play­ing last week and thought we’d give him one more week in the NEAFL.

“We see him as a player of the fu­ture and we think to­wards the end of the year if we can give a few of the younger play­ers who haven’t played a game, give them a taste for it, it will show them what they have to work on over the pre- sea­son.

“We think that their devel­op­ment.’’

Bray­den Fior­ini and Jesse Lon­er­gan also come into the side.

Brisbane have made the one forced change to the side that lost to Rich­mond at Eti­had Sta­dium on Sun­day with Nick Robertson serv­ing a one­match ban for head­but­ting Tigers skip­per Trent Cotchin.

Darcy Gar­diner, who is very much in the Robertson mould, re­turns af­ter mak­ing a rapid re­cov­ery from a dis­lo­cated el­bow suf­fered two weeks ago.

He is in an ex­tended squad that also in­cludes Marco Pa­parone and Michael Close.

Lions coach Chris Fa­gan said there had been no need to rep­ri­mand the hard- nosed de­fender.

“I haven’t spo­ken to him. He came and had a chat to me and he thought he went a bit over what was ac­cept­able and he’ll take his pun­ish­ment on the chin,’’ he said.

“He’s been fan­tas­tic for us this year, a real war­rior, a real com­peti­tor, and we’ll look for­ward to hav­ing him back in the team.’’ will help

SIDE­LINED: Gold Coast’s Gary Ablett has been ruled out of tak­ing on the Bull­dogs in Cairns this week­end be­cause of a ham­string prob­lem. Pic­ture: GETTY IM­AGES

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