AFL Star Gunston Backs Lions’ Current Team Lineup for Saturday’s Finals


AFL Triple Crown-winner, Jack Gunston, has recommended Brisbane Lions’ coach Chris Fagan to persist with the currently thriving team lineup despite his availability, ahead of the fast-approaching Saturday’s preliminary finals against Carlton at the Gabba.

Gunston, deemed imperative for the Lions’ reservations for the flag since his transfer from Hawthorn in the off-season, has been on the bench since a knee injury he incurred during a narrow win over Adelaide on August 12th. The 31-year-old veteran forward, however, was on the list for this week, with his finals experience being an undeniable asset for the Lions.

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“There was the contemplation of selecting Gunston, yet an in-form team makes it challenging to amend,” confessed Fagan in a discussion on Friday. “Gunston would wholeheartedly agree with this. We spoke about this very matter on Tuesday,” he added.

The Lions’ coach shared Gunston’s thoughts who had said, “I appreciate the predicament you’re in. However, if it’s any consolation, I will completely comprehend if I’m not included, as the team is exceptionally well.”

Gunston, being a seasoned player, therefore, acknowledges the process. “He saw it happening at Hawthorn, players performing well naturally earn their place in the lineup,” Fagan remarked. Gunston, with a matured perspective, will continue to lend his support in training, disseminating the wisdom accumulated over his career. Fagan added, “Knowing Gunston’s support is comforting. If we make it through the next stage, he’s our go-to.”

Despite Gunston being a potential candidate for the grand final if the Lions were to progress, Fagan remarked that the return of key injured defender Jack Payne is uncertain. There was no falter in Fagan’s decision to exclude Payne – nursing an ankle injury – from Brisbane’s preliminary final team, particularly given his substitute Darcy Gardiner’s experience.

“If we succeed in reaching the grand final, Payne will have hurdles to overcome, as I strictly avoid having injured participants in finals”, Fagan continued. “I’ve never seen effective performances from injured players nor does it benefit them to play on such a significant platform bearing injuries.”

The selection fell on Darcy Gardiner, who Fagan confidently opted for. “He has an impressive record of 156 AFL games and despite the season being plagued with injuries, his regular VFL appearances over the past six weeks give us reassurance,” Fagan added. “Losing Jack on the team is undeniably unfortunate, but having Darcy on standby is a wonderful substitute.”

Fagan remained unperturbed by the fact that Gardiner was somewhat lesser in stature compared to robust Payne considering Carlton’s tall forward line. He clarified it was largely contingent on how the game progressed, emphasizing that the situation was quite similar at the other end too.

Brushing away any reasons that might be thrown around in case the rejuvenated Lions suffered a disappointing preliminary final for the third time in four years, Fagan declared, “We’ve had ample rest, and are considerably fresh. There exists no room for excuses. This indeed is an enviable position to be in.”