Underdone Ablett now grateful for first- up bye
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.