Gold Coast skipper Gary Ablett believes the under-performing Suns can play AFL finals next season without star midfielders Jaeger O’Meara and Dion Prestia.
Ablett, with his surgically repaired shoulder in a sling, fronted reporters on Friday, less than 24 hours after O’Meara handed the club a trade request.
Prestia is yet to formally do likewise, but he’s widely tipped to follow his teammate out the door with Richmond his likely destination.
Ablett was asked several times for his take on O’Meara’s decision, but was reluctant to air his thoughts after club chairman Tony Cochrane’s assertion the Suns would “make a stance” in trade negotiations.
“Look, I’ve got no comment on that,” Ablett said.
“I think the club’s come out over the last couple of days and said what they want to say … we’re focused on this week and making sure that we finish the season off well.
“We’ll sit down as a group over the next couple of week sand work out what the next step is going to be.
“I think Tony Cochrane and Rocket (Rodney Eade) have been pretty strong in their pressers and that’s really all I’ve got to say about it.”
Ablett said he didn’t plan to make any last-ditch bids to convince Prestia to stay.
He said O’Meara had been emotional when he informed his teammates of his decision, but refused to reveal anything more.
The Suns, 15th with one game left, have failed to finish higher than 12th in their six-year existence, while Greater Western Sydney are vying for a top-four berth in their fifth season in the competition.
“It’s been a tough five or six years – there’s no doubt about that,” Ablett said.
“(But) I’m confident that with the list we’ve got, with a good pre-season and getting some guys back from injury, that we’re good enough to play finals football.
Ablett hasn’t played since round 16 after suffering a second shoulder dislocation on his left side.
He reported he’s recovering well from surgery and should be back running by late September.