Can Gary Ablett’s shoulder stand up to AFL footy? Can it what.
In his third match back after a prolonged injury lay-off the dual Brownlow medallist sent out an emphatic message about his troublesome joint’s strength with a 17-tackle display in Gold Coast’s 15-point loss to Greater Western Sydney on Saturday.
The Suns skipper added a lazy 30-disposals and three goals but it was his defensive work rate which would have brought most joy to his teammates and Suns’ fans.
The 17-tackle tally is the highest of Ablett’s stellar career and only two off Jude Bolton’s all-time AFL best single-game haul of 19 for Sydney against West Coast in 2011.
“People talk about his leadership, I don’t want to bang on too much about it but he’s really grown in that area,” Suns coach Rodney Eade said.
“His ability and willingness now to direct his teammates and demand more from his teammates and they’re happy to demand more from him, I thought he led from the front today in that area.
“Having 17 tackles … just shows he’s not just an offensive player.”
Another Sun to shine in the narrow loss was first-year player Touk Miller, who continued his fine debut campaign with a career-high 27 disposals and two goals as well as several key plays which lead to scoring opportunities.
Eade said he was baffled by how the dynamic midfielder hadn’t earned a Rising Star nomination.
“I would’ve thought he would have had one six or seven weeks ago to be honest,” he said.
“His performance today was first class. You would think with that effort and perseverance he’s going to have one soon.
“He’s been terrific. He’s not got the silky skills of some of the players who’ve got nominations but some of the stuff he’s done … today was probably the pinnacle of that.”