Brisbane Lions coach Leigh Matthews appears to be unfairly applying moral pressure to one of his most valuable players, Luke Power, that’s essentially aimed at resisting a possible “godfather” offer Brisbane can’t hope to match to keep him when his contract expires at the end of this season.

At his media conference yesterday, Matthews, who recently recommitted to his own contract extension with the club up to 2008, understandably said that the last thing his fast fading Lions need is one of the younger premium players (with probably at least another five or more seasons left at the top) to accept a better offer elsewhere from 2006.

But Matthews in his desperation overstepped the mark when he essentially applied the “loyalty blackmail” litmus test to the 25-year-old star midfielder. He brazenly questioned the character of any of his players should they decide to quit the club for a better offer.

“If we leave it’s like bailing out when things get tough. You can’t do that,” Matthews aggressively suggested, before he really turned up the heat on Power. “What does that say about your character? I’d be very, very surprised if Luke or any of our players who have been part of the last four to five years leave, because they’re not that kind of people.”

Translated, the Matthews logic argues that should Power leave for whatever reason, he’s essentially a rat deserting a sinking ship. Yet by any definition of loyalty since his original recruitment as a first round draft pick back in 1997, and some 140 senior games of sustained quality, Power has already given long and brilliant service to his coach and club. But should he now decide he wants to return to Melbourne, any suggestion his character is somehow open to question is hash and unfair.