Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew says Nick Holman's bravery in playing out last Saturday's game against the Western Bulldogs is one of the toughest things he's seen on a football field.
Holman copped an incidental knock to the stomach in the opening quarter of the 11-point loss and was taken to hospital post-match before undergoing surgery.
The SUNS' pressure forward was still in hospital on Thursday and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
"It's one of the toughest things I've seen, given he's still in hospital," Dew said.
"For him to play the game out and play the way he did, we knew he was tough, but he's taken that to a new level and that's been acknowledged within the footy club.
"It's an opportunity for someone to stand up, but we also need to recognise the effort Nick put in last week."
Holman kicked three goals in the opening term against the Bulldogs, and despite suffering the injury in a collision with Marcus Bontempelli, still finished with 16 disposals to go along with six marks.
Dew said he knew the 26-year-old had injured himself, but was unsure to the extent.
"We knew he'd had incidental contact in the wrong spot. We checked on him multiple times," he said.
"At three-quarter time I looked at him and he was gritting his teeth and saying he was OK and getting a little bit green, and after the game, once he stopped, the adrenaline stopped, I think it hit him.
"We've got to look after him, he's had an internal operation, so it's unlikely he'll play again this year.
"It's unfortunate with COVID that you can't have visitors, so the boys have FaceTimed him a fair bit in our meetings."
Holman's absence is one change for Gold Coast's team ahead of Saturday's QClash against Brisbane at the Gabba.
Winger Brandon Ellis (hamstring) will also miss, but Dew confirmed dashing defender Oleg Markov would play provided he got through Thursday night's training session after a calf niggle kept him out against the Bulldogs.
After a good three-week block of matches, Dew said it was important to keep things going against the Lions.
"We've set a bar that's high and we want to reach that again on the weekend," he said.
"Regardless of the result, the visual needs to be that we're challenging the opposition right to the end.
"We want to finish the year strong, no matter who the opponent is."