ON THE same weekend Gold Coast copped a second successive 90-point flogging, Jarryd Lyons was earning maximum AFL Coaches Association votes with a clinical wet-weather performance for Brisbane against Port Adelaide.
It continued a fine season for the ball-winning midfielder, who was delisted by the Suns with one year left on his contract last October to head 70km north to the Lions.
Surely Lyons would be helping the wooden-spoon-bound Gold Coast? The Suns have orchestrated a list management howler, haven't they?
These are the questions many are asking this week, and while the short answer is "yes" to both, it's not the slam dunk you might assume at first glance.
Let's look at a few factors, right and wrong, that influenced Gold Coast's decision.
|The stat||2019 AVG||AFL rank||Career AVG|
|Defensive-half pressure acts||10.4||28th||7.4|
|Tackles inside 50||1.4||34th||0.8|
Perhaps the biggest mistake made, and the one that has got most coverage, came from coach Stuart Dew, who concentrated largely on what Lyons couldn't do rather than what he could do.
The former Crow struggled to run last season, couldn't move freely from contest to contest, and was dropped twice.
As Lyons revealed upon starting his pre-season with Brisbane, he had an ankle problem for most of 2018 that required surgery
The Suns surely would have known that and been able to project a better running output in 2019.
With a fresh start in mind, Gold Coast was trying to wipe some money off its Total Player Payments.
Like the other northern clubs, it's had to overpay to both lure players and, in many instances, keep them over the years, pushing it to the brink of the salary cap line.
Tom Lynch, Steven May, Kade Kolodjashnij, Aaron Hall and Jack Scrimshaw had already left or been traded, and while Lyons' 2019 wage was solid, it wasn't the difference between breaking the cap or not.
The recruitment of Anthony Miles from Richmond, who has had a solid season after a slow start, was seen as a cheaper version of Lyons for similar output.
Anthony Miles fires out a handball against his former team. Picture: AFL Photos
This is where things become a little hazy.
If there's one thing Gold Coast doesn't need, it's inside midfielders like Lyons. Co-captain David Swallow is a bull, vice-captain Touk Miller is best suited there, and top-10 draft pick Will Brodie was being groomed to slot in.
For Brisbane, recruiting Lyons was a no-brainer.
With Lachie Neale already in their back pocket (as a pseudo-replacement for Dayne Beams), adding the 26-year-old to the mix would ensure young stars Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Berry wouldn't be belted in the centre square as much.
This is exactly how things have panned out, with McCluggage and Berry spending most of their time on the wing, and flourishing.
Lyons is a complementary player in Brisbane.
At the same time, Gold Coast could have – and should have – had a similar blueprint.
Rather than viewing him as surplus to needs in the engine room, a fit Lyons could have eased the integration of Jack Bowes, Brayden Fiorini, Darcy Macpherson and Ben Ainsworth.
Breaking down the stats – Suns v Lions
Lyons is having a terrific season, but the numbers show he's actually down on his 2018 output.
Last year for Gold Coast, he averaged 25 disposals, 14 of which were contested, and seven clearances. Only new teammate Neale, Patrick Cripps and Brownlow medallist Tom Mitchell exceeded that trio of averages.
For Brisbane those numbers have slightly dipped to 23, 11 and five, and although his game-time is similar, he's likely to have spent more minutes inside forward 50 for the Lions.
Is Brisbane getting a better version of Lyons?
For some of the reasons already outlined, this is a hard "yes".
Lyons is fitter, and no doubt happier going to a club that already had his younger brother Corey and a club that gave him the certainty of a three-year deal.
Jarryd and Corey Lyons ham it up for the cameras. Picture: AFL Photos
Perhaps above all though, he's gone to a club that can better utilise his attributes.
While Lyons wins the ball in tight, and sometimes scraps it forward like he did against Port, the Suns didn't have the players to cash in on his grunt work.
Now Lyons can get his hands dirty and feed it to McCluggage, Berry, Dayne Zorko, Lincoln McCarthy and Charlie Cameron and watch them add the icing.
He makes a good team even better.
The Suns made an error in not retaining Lyons, but it's not as cut-and-dried as many would think.
They saved a few dollars (which might have helped contribute to extending the contracts of Bowes, Ainsworth and Izak Rankine) and they exposed young midfielders to an increased role.
It's an unquestionable home run for both Brisbane and Lyons and perhaps another lesson for clubs in concentrating on what players can do, rather than what they can't.