He’s down but Gold Coast captain Gary Ablett is most definitely not out in the opinion of coach Rodney Eade.
Ablett has come under fire in recent weeks after an underwhelming start to the 2016 AFL season, with the dual Brownlow Medallist admitting he needed to improve in the wake of a team meeting following a 120-point loss to Geelong.
Despite that honesty session, the Suns were thrashed again last weekend, beaten by Melbourne at home.
Ablett’s major contribution was off the field when he confronted an angry fan after taking exception to offensive language the man was using in the vicinity of children in the stands.
Eade says Ablett is carrying a couple of niggles but nothing serious, though he admits his skipper is clearly yet to get back to the form which made him the game’s number one player before a season-ending shoulder injury in 2014.
“He only had the six games last year … whether it’s confidence in his body and, as he’s said, he’s sort of changed his style a bit because, apart from his extraordinary skill, his number one wood has been his contested footy,” Eade told SEN Radio.
“He probably hasn’t got that to the level he has in the past.
“Whether it’s being an older-type player, I don’t know, but I’ve got confidence he’ll get that back.”
The club is investigating the altercation between Ablett and the fan but Eade’s main focus is trying to get his undermanned group back to winning ways.
The Suns travel to Sydney this weekend to take on a Greater Western Sydney team which has surpassed them in the rise of the expansion teams.
Eade says while the past couple of weeks have shown the Suns’ squad depth is lacking, that’s no excuse for a lack of spirit.
“We’ve got to develop some resilience. The lack of confidence in the Geelong game after half time was alarming and we made a lot of mistakes on Saturday night too which probably hurt the confidence of the younger players,” he said.
“We’ve got to develop that resilience and develop that consistent effort even if results don’t go the right way.”