Un­der­done Ablett now grate­ful for first- up bye

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

GOLD Coast skip­per Gary Ablett thought the Suns’ first-round bye was a ma­jor ir­ri­ta­tion un­til he started get­ting nig­gling in­juries over the sum­mer.

Now he’s wel­comed the week off with open arms, say­ing it is the rea­son he’ll be fit enough to lead the Suns into battle for their first match against Carl­ton in round two at the Gabba next Satur­day night. ‘‘ It’s been per­fect for me ( the bye),’’ Ablett said. ‘‘ When I first looked at the draw, I would have pre­ferred a bye to have been in the mid­dle of the sea­son when you need the rest.

‘‘( But) it’s worked out per­fect for me, it’s given me an ex­tra week to get back.’’

Nig­gling in­juries hav­ing seen Ablett not play a bona fide pre-sea­son match for the first time in his ca­reer, the 26-year-old topped off his lim­ited prepa­ra­tion dur­ing a 60-minute in­tra-club match at Cararra yes­ter­day.

Ablett split his game time be­tween the mid­field and be­ing perched deep in at­tack as a small for­ward.

The in­tra-club match, which was also the fledg­ling AFL club’s fi­nal ma­jor hit-out, fea­tured most of the Suns’ big names ex­cept for key de­fender Nathan Bock and vet­eran ruck­man Josh Fraser.

Bock ran laps while the match was in progress and Fraser was be­ing kept in cot­ton wool ahead of the sea­son opener.

Ablett said bar­ring any ma­jor sore­ness he ex­pected to play against the Blues.

‘‘ I am hopeful I will play 85 to 90 per cent of the game, like I usu­ally do,’’ the Brown­low Medal­list said.

‘‘ I’ll see how I pull up from to­day. I feel quite good at the mo­ment.’’

While Ablett has been miss­ing, he has been play­ing an ac­tive role in groom­ing many of the young Suns play­ers for their mid­field and lead­er­ship roles in train­ing ses­sions or in player meet­ings.

He said they had worked hard on im­prov­ing their clear­ance rate at stop­pages and he would not only bob up in at­tack, but also in de­fence dur­ing 2011.

‘‘ The plan ( yes­ter­day) was for the first twenty min­utes to be a bit stop and start and fix up our struc­tures,’’ Ablett said.

‘‘ Not just me, but for ev­ery­one there will be a lot more ro­ta­tions with play­ers play­ing dif­fer­ent po­si­tions.

‘‘ A lot of mid­field­ers will ro­tate through the for­ward line and the back line.’’

Code-hop­per Karmichael Hunt said he was start­ing to feel as if he be­longed at the Suns and ex­pected to feel first-game nerves if se­lected against the Blues. ‘‘ I feel like I have ticked all the boxes that have been given to me,’’ the for­mer rugby league in­ter­na­tional said.

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