The evolving tale of the QClash is poised for another twist this Saturday when the Gold Coast SUNS host the Brisbane Lions in the 13th edition of the series.
After Steven May added some serious vitriol between the two sides early last season, the SUNS and Lions will clash in round one for the first time in history, with an opportunity for both teams to start their 2017 season on a positive note after disappointing 2016 campaigns.
QClash 13 will take on added significance, with former Lion Pearce Hanley switching allegiances during the off-season, moving from the hustle and bustle of city life in Brisbane to the relaxed coastal vibe in Burleigh Heads.
The Irishman has become renowned as a QClash specialist, stepping up a notch every time the SUNS and Lions meet. He has won the Marcus Ashcroft medal on two occasions for best on ground, an honour he shares with new teammate Gary Ablett.
With a new lease on life at the top level, Hanley wants to prove his best football is still ahead of him and the stage is set for him to do just that this Saturday.
“I want to make a statement and show them my best football is in front of me and that is going to start hopefully against Brisbane and then I want to push on and have a great year,” Hanley told The Courier Mail.
“There is no ill will towards Brisbane but yeah I hope I do play well and we get a good win.”
When asked why he has been so dominant in past QClash games, Hanley believes the SUNS allowed him off the leash more than other opponents.
Rewind to his 45-possession, two-goal game against the SUNS in Round 18, 2014 when then SUNS coach Guy McKenna opted to tag Tom Rockliff instead of Hanley, which allowed the 28-year-old to run riot and lead his team to victory.
With the likes of Ablett, David Swallow and Aaron Hall alongside him in Gold Coast’s engine room this week, Hanley is hoping for the same freedom but would be flattered if the Lions do opt to tag him.
“I am not sure if it was game style, but I always seemed to have a lot more freedom against the Gold Coast and I’ve been able to play my best football,’’ he said.
“Whether I am afforded that against Brisbane I am not sure, but I’ll be looking to tap that same form just on a different team.
“I would be flattered (if I was tagged), there is better players on the SUNS team than me so I would be very flattered.’’
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