Gold Coast ruckman Tom Nicholls says a lack of fitness was not solely to blame for a final quarter fadeout in their 22-point AFL loss to Western Bulldogs in Cairns.
Coach Rodney Eade had revealed his surprise at the Suns' level of conditioning upon his arrival at the club early this year after the Gold Coast conceded 10 final term goals to let a 37-point third quarter lead slip against the Western Bulldogs.
However, Nicholls said playing as individuals - not being run off their feet - led to their 12th loss in 14 games.
"In terms of fitness, that was one small part of it we think," he said.
"We were put in that situation we haven't been put in too often.
"I think everyone carried that responsibility and wanted to win the game off their own bat, which is honourable in theory, but out there it doesn't help the team aspect."
But Nicholls did reveal the squad had been doing extra fitness sessions.
"We've displayed in the past that we can run out whole games but footy is a week-to-week proposition and unfortunately last week it came down to that," Nicholls said.
"We're learning how to deal with it.
"We've been doing extra running throughout the week to deal with that and help combat that.
"As long as we've learned from it, it hasn't been a waste."
Nicholls has also expressed his frustration over fellow expansion club Greater Western Sydney's progress.
The Giants (8th; 8-6 record) are in sight of a debut finals campaign.
The second-last Suns have gone backwards in the year their chairman John Witheriff once claimed the Gold Coast would win the flag.
"You've got a lot of pride playing footy and we're the two new clubs coming through, and they're a massive rival of ours," Nicholls said.
"Internally we've got our own expectations and we know in footy you fluctuate a lot.
"We've had a massive down to last year but we know there's bright skies ahead."