With no Gary Ablett, Nathan Fyfe or Matthew Pavlich, AFL fans at Metricon Stadium on Saturday could be forgiven for turning their attention towards catching a few Pokemon instead.
Gold Coast and Fremantle are both decimated by injury and will scrape together hugely undermanned teams for a clash that will have no real bearing on the ladder, the season or either team’s general outlook.
Both sides have been stripped of star power with the Suns missing their six best midfielders – Ablett (shoulder), Michael Rischitelli, Dion Prestia, David Swallow, Jaeger O’Meara (knee) and Aaron Hall (hamstring) – while the Dockers have rested veteran Matthew Pavlich, and have been minus Brownlow medallist Nathan Fyfe (broken leg) for most of the year.
In fact, a team made up of those unavailable for Gold Coast and Fremantle this weekend would probably beat both sides in their present forms quite comfortably.
Perhaps to give supporters a reason to bother turning up, the Suns will stage a Pokemon Go-themed event at Carrara, promising free Wi-Fi and lures at the stadium’s PokeStop – a welcome distraction in what has been another tough season on the glitter strip.
Such a grind it has been that Suns mentor Rodney Eade is no longer bothering with the sort of ‘silver linings’ optimism coaches usually reach for in an injury crisis, having already exposed almost every single player at the club to AFL football this year.
Hall, who injured his hamstring at training on Thursday, just the latest blow for the Suns and he is not expected to return until at least their round 21 clash with Essendon.
“I think we’ve found out enough about the list, to be honest. It’s been a bit of a kick in the backside to get these latest injuries,” Eade admitted.
The Suns beat Fremantle by 26 points back in round two, the second of their three straight wins to open the season, but Eade said circumstances have changed dramatically since then.
“I think it’s a clean slate to be honest,” he said.
“I think there’s probably 10 changes from our point of view and maybe the same for Freo.”
Both sides will hand out debuts with Gold Coast’s Josh Schoenfeld and mature-aged Fremantle draftee Shane Yarran set to play their first AFL games.
WALKING WOUNDED: HOW GOLD COAST AND FREMANTLE’S SIDELINED STARS WOULD LINE UP TOGETHER
B: Henry Schade (GC), Michael Johnson (Fre), Clay Cameron (GC)
HB: Adam Saad (GC), Alex Pearce (Fre), Trent McKenzie (GC)
C: Jaeger O’Meara (GC), Michael Rischitelli (GC), David Swallow (GC)
HF: Michael Barlow (Fre), Nathan Fyfe (Fre), Luke Russell (GC)
F: Hayden Ballantyne (Fre), Matthew Pavlich (Fre), Harley Bennell (Fre)
R: Aaron Sandilands (Fre), Dion Prestia (GC), Gary Ablett (GC)
Int: Aaron Hall (GC), Keegan Brooksby (GC), Mackenzie Willis (Fre), Tanner Smith (Fre)