Ablett joins Suns - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ablett joins Suns

By Guy Hand 29/09/2010 07:55:49 PM Comments (0)

Gary Ablett will earn an astonishing $86,000 a match during the 2011 AFL season after quitting Geelong for the Gold Coast, but insists he only made up his mind 24 hours before he announced his decision.

Ablett, 26, confirmed on Wednesday he would join the AFL newcomers on a five-year, $1.9 million a season deal, ending his family's long and glorious association with his hometown club.

The game's No.1 player will become the face of the Gold Coast Suns and the AFL's highest-paid footballer - earning nearly double the pay packet of the next top earner.

After months of rumours he would move to the Gold Coast, Ablett said his final decision to quit the club with which he won two premierships and a Brownlow Medal was made only in the previous 24 hours.

Clearly nervous and faltering on several occasions in front of a huge media conference in Melbourne, the 26-year-old described the decision to leave Geelong - with whom his father Gary snr became a footballing legend - as "incredibly difficult."

"I made the decision yesterday and I feel it's the right decision," Ablett said.

"For those who know me well they know that I thrive on the challenge and perform my best when faced with a new challenge.

"I gave my all for Geelong and will be forever grateful for the support of the Geelong football club and its many great fans.

"But now this is all about the challenge of joining a new team and a new and unique opportunity to be part of something special in football."

Both Ablett and Suns coach Guy McKenna said there had been no decision made as to whether the midfielder would also be given the Suns captaincy - believed to have been a fait accompli as part of the deal to lure him north.

"It's something we haven't talked about too much," Ablett said of captaining the AFL's 17th club.

"Leadership is something I've really worked hard on the last three or four years - to become the best possible leader I can.

"I want to prove myself as a leader and if the guys decide to give me the captaincy that would be fantastic. If someone else is better for the role, I'm just as happy for them."

Ablett said he had consulted with his father among others as he weighed up whether to make the move to a club for which his signing is the biggest event in its short history.

"He's always very supportive no matter what I do," Ablett said of his father.

"He's someone I have spoken to a lot during the year. He said `at the end of the day, it's only a game, it's about your happiness and what you think is the right decision'."

The deal from cashed-up Gold Coast is believed to have dwarfed the Cats' contract offer of around $800,000 to $900,000 a year.

Ablett met with Cats chief executive Brian Cook and football manager Neil Balme on Wednesday morning to tell them of his decision to leave.

It is the second blow in 24 hours for Geelong, whose coach Mark Thompson is also considering his future - citing "burnout" after 11 years in the job.

Ablett admitted he had not spoken directly to Thompson about his decision.

But the two will come face to face at Geelong's best and fairest presentation on Thursday - where Ablett is almost certain to win the major award.

Ablett declared he would attend the function and address the Cats' faithful.

Cook said the Cats could not match the offer the Suns put before Ablett.

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