Gary Ablett’s teammates have challenged the Gold Coast skipper to improve his contested ball numbers as the Suns search for answers over their AFL struggles.
The Suns held a “no-holds barred” video review session on Monday following the team’s woeful 120-point loss to Geelong, in which each player on their list was interrogated over their effort and application.
Dual Brownlow Medal winner Ablett was no exception, taken to task by his teammates for a perceived slip in his standards.
The 31-year-old ranked in the AFL’s top four for contested possessions per game for each season between 2008 and 2014, averaging 17.5 in that final year before going down with a shoulder injury.
This year, he has averaged 12.5 per game – still enough to rank him equal 17th in the competition, but not enough for him to earn a free pass from his fellow players.
The nature of his shoulder injury provides Ablett with some mitigating circumstances.
But he told the Suns website: “I need to get back to playing the type of footy I know I can play, that’s a contested brand of football.
“It’s getting in, winning that contested ball and getting it out to our runners on the outside.
“Probably the biggest area for me is I’m playing my best footy when I’m doing that so I was challenged from the boys to make sure I step up my game and I’ll be working on that this week.”
Ablett said the Suns were embarrassed by their huge defeat to Geelong, arguably the worst in the expansion club’s short history.
“At the end of the day the scoreboard’s probably irrelevant, we didn’t play the brand of football that we wanted to play,” he said.
“We had a game plan going into the game and we went away from our structures. That’s probably the most disappointing thing.
“We talk about it every week – there needs to be effort – and there just wasn’t effort there on the weekend.”
Gold Coast hosts Melbourne at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.