The Courier-Mail



GOLD Coast have locked away emerging midfielder Jesse Lonergan for another two years.

A deal is also close to being finalised in which stand-in skipper Michael Rischitell­i will see out his career at the Suns.

Suns list manager Scott Clayton has reached an agreement with Lonergan’s agent, Tom Petroro, and expects to have Rischitell­i, who is also managed by Petroro’s Stride Sports Management, wrapped up within days.

“Pleasingly we are getting to a stage where we hope to be able to finalise the deals in the near future,’’ he said.

Lonergan – the 13th pick in the 2012 draft – has been the most improved player at the Suns in coach Rodney Eade’s first season at the AFL club.

The Tasmanian broke his hand twice in his first two seasons and has had multiple soft tissue injuries which have restricted him to 27 games.

His pre-season was interrupte­d again by hamstring injuries but since returning to full fitness he has played the past 14 games.

Eade decided early on in his Suns tenure that Lonergan could join elite top 10 draft picks David Swallow and Dion Prestia and Rising Star winner Jaeger O’Meara in the Suns’ midfield if the club put more work into his developmen­t.

Rischitell­i was written off several years ago after two injury ravaged seasons but the Suns felt indebted to him for playing hurt round after round to provide a strong body and cool head for his younger teammates.

He was placed on one-year deals and, now injury free, has produced two very good seasons.

It is believed his new deal will be for two years.

The Merrett-Murray Medal winner as Brisbane’s best and fairest has become a giant of the Suns football club.

He led the way, in the injury absence of Gary Ablett, on the player-driven cultural reform that has happened at the club this year.

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