Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade is confident Suns captain Gary Ablett is both physically and mentally ready for his AFL comeback.
The dual Brownlow medallist has been named to play for the Suns against North Melbourne on Saturday after 12 weeks on the sidelines.
Ablett’s comeback from a shoulder reconstruction at the start of the year lasted just two games before the Suns decided he needed more time to let the joint heal enough to secure his long-term playing future.
In his absence the Suns have slipped to last on the AFL ladder, with just one win from 12 games as well as being rocked by several off-field incidents.
Ablett’s right arm might be a target but Eade says the 31-year-old won’t need any more shielding than normal from his teammates.
“They can help him out like any player that gets tagged,” Eade said.
“Obviously you’ve got to protect him body-wise, be able to stand in between, but I think Gary’s had that before in his career as well.
“He’s got to a stage where he’s confident enough that if that does happen he’ll be okay.”
Eade isn’t expecting any fireworks from Ablett considering his long absence but says the boost he’ll provide to his teammates by being back alongside them can’t be calculated.
“I know he’s a bit of a phenomenon in many ways so he’ll probably be able to slot back in seamlessly but our expectation is just being there and being our captain,” Eade said.
“Giving us a presence. The players are really looking forward to him being back, just as an elder statesmen, just his experience. That’ll help the players.”
Ablett’s inclusion is one of four changes for the Suns from the team that lost to Carlton last weekend.
Harley Bennell has been stood down following Thursday’s publication of photos allegedly showing him taking illicit drugs while David Swallow is set to return from his own injury layoff.
Aaron Hall has also earned a recall along with ruckman Keegan Brooksby.
The Kangaroos have made one change for this weekend’s match with Majak Daw replacing Ben Brown for his first AFL start of the year.