Youngster to 'mentor' Ablett - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Youngster to 'mentor' Ablett

Roger Vaughan 18/11/2010 05:32:49 PM Comments (0)

A 20-year-old who is yet to make his AFL debut will "mentor" Gary Ablett, the game's best player.

Gold Coast call it "reverse mentoring" and the league's 17th team - who enter the competition in 2011 - see it as a crucial stage in building the culture among their players.

Ablett and the Suns' other uncontracted signings will be each assigned a player already at the club to let them know how the place operates and what is expected of them.

It is a normal feature of welcoming new players to a football club, only usually it is the veterans bringing the kids up to speed.

At Gold Coast, the kids are the "veterans".

So Charlie Dixon, a 20-year-old 200cm key forward, will help guide Ablett through his early days at the Suns.

"It's unique, because we've had the young kids before we've had the old kids - normally in a system, you have the old ones first and then bring in the new ones," said Suns coach Guy McKenna.

"We're very proud of the fact that the culture we've set up from day one has been fantastic, so we wanted to impart that on the boys coming in, we didn't want to get Geelong's culture, we didn't want to go and get Hawthorn's culture.

"Speaking to some of the players who have been at other clubs, (they) say 'gee your boys are hard-working, they're disciplined and their intensity is really high' - that to me is a tick to say we're on the right path."

McKenna said his team's culture boiled down to three elements - good communication, discipline and hard work.

Chief executive Travis Auld said building and maintaining the right culture was the most important task at the new club.

"The first thing we did when we started to build this club was identify the type of culture we wanted to promote," Auld said.

Auld added the club had made sure each of the "mentors" was well-prepared for the exercise.

"We hold their hand, we have a lot of resources around these boys and we're not expecting anything that's unreasonable," he said.

Meanwhile, McKenna said star rugby league convert Karmichael Hunt was progressing well as he adapts to Australian Rules.

He said uncontracted signings such as Nathan Bock and Campbell Brown were surprised at Hunt's development.

"They sit back, scratch their heads and say 'gee, this bloke is going to be okay' - we can't say any more about it," McKenna said.

"He's already down to his weight, he wasn't far off it to be honest, it's just the way he was shaped.

"Everyone remembers Leigh Matthews, he had fairly stocky little thighs as well, probably not as big as Karmichael's, but that's the way he's designed.

"He's on playing weight now, he could play next week if he wanted to."

McKenna was speaking on Thursday at a media tour of Gold Coast's Carrara Stadium, which is being redeveloped.

McKenna calls Carrara "the house of the rising Suns".

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