Lions lose Gardiner for season
LION Darcy Gardiner's breakthrough season has come to an end with the defender set for a shoulder reconstruction.
The 22-year-old surely has a top-five finish in the Merrett-Murray medal locked away and it would surprise no one on club championship awards night if he is near the lead at round 21 when his season ended.
Gardiner has always possessed the versatility to play on both the small goal sneaks and the opposition's second tall forward but this year he was entrusted to take on some of the biggest names and men, in the competition.
He enhanced his reputation by claiming the scalps of Buddy Franklin and Eddie Betts.
He has also evolved from a pure stopper to providing offensive rebound.
Football manager David Noble said Gardiner had been one of the success stories out of the Gabba this year.
He confirmed Gardiner had scans Monday and was likely to go in for surgery either Tuesday or Wednesday.
"It is a pity for him because it would have been nice for him to finish off a year where he has developed really well and taken some very big scalps,'' he said.
"I reckon he has become really reliable for us, not only as a defender to defend an opponent but with the decisions he makes with the ball and also the consistency of his performance.
"His capacity to rebound has been overlooked too, he has been really good.''
Noble said Gardiner was likely to be able to join in the running program when pre-season began and even if he was a late starter for contact work, he would be in full training before Christmas.
"Once he gets it out of the sling he can start running, so his fitness won't be a problem and then it is just a matter of when it can be put through contact work,'' he said.
The Suns also had a tough weekend on the injury front with Pearce Hanley and Will Brodie both suffering hamstring strains.
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