BRISBANE coach Chris Fagan is resigned to losing Cam Rayner for the season, after the former No.1 draft pick suffered a suspected ACL injury to his right knee on Monday night.
The 21-year-old was trying to smother a handball at half-back in Brisbane's 28-point win over Gold Coast when he clutched his knee and crumpled to the turf.
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Rayner was distraught as he sat on the ground writhing in pain, before eventually being helped to his feet and from the ground.
Post-match, Fagan said he feared the worst immediately.
"It's not great," he said.
"I saw it happen, I thought 'that's an ACL'.
"That’s what our physios think.
"Obviously we have to get scans and all that done but that’s the way it's looking at this time which is a real pity."
Rayner has missed just two games in his first three seasons and had a terrific pre-season, being pushed more into the midfield after making his name as a half-forward.
Fagan said he thought the 21-year-old was ready to "take off" in 2021.
"It will build his character though. I know he’ll still continue to lead around our footy club, he’ll try and find a way to make the most pf this opportunity."
"A bit of a sad night in that regard."
Brisbane turned a 29-point deficit just prior to half-time into a comfortable victory on the back of a dominant second half.
Fagan said it was almost the ideal hitout prior to a round one date with Sydney at the Gabba.
"I thought some of our leaders really stood up in that third quarter like (Dayne) Zorko, Lachie Neale, they all stepped it up and the game turned on its ear pretty quickly," he said.
"By and large it was a really good hitout for your final practice game because we had fight hard to win tonight."
Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew also took positives despite being slaughtered in the third quarter.
He said "wasted opportunities" cost the Suns in the first two quarters, when they led the inside 50 count 43-14.
"In the third quarter there was a barrage. We let them in. we couldn't get it out of our D50 (defensive 50)," he said.
"We were able to scratch a bit in the last quarter and fight it out.
"It was a good example for us to look at when we're at our best and when we let the oppositions back in, and clearly a quality side, if you open the gate one inch, they're going to come straight through it."