Ablett the leader emerges - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ablett the leader emerges

Laine Clark 01/04/2011 05:19:45 PM Comments (0)

Even veteran defender Nathan Bock was feeling nervous ahead of the Gold Coast Suns' historic AFL debut - and then Gary Ablett arrived at training.

Ablett's captaincy had been criticised in the past, with Melbourne great Garry Lyon even claiming it should have gone to ex-Hawthorn hardman Campbell Brown.

But the Brownlow Medallist looked every inch a leader as he gathered his young squad together to settle nerves ahead of their final session before making history on Saturday night.

And a squad boasting 12 debutants - with an average age of 21 - needed some settling down before running out against Carlton at the Gabba.

That included Bock, despite playing 113 games for Adelaide before becoming the Suns' first high-profile signing.

"Gary just grabbed all the boys before training and we had a quick chat about not getting too caught up in the moment, just concentrate on what we need to do," Bock said after the Suns' inaugural team emerged from training unscathed.

"I can honestly say I was a bit nervous myself.

"I am sure there is going to be a lot of nerves but obviously a lot of excitement."

The Suns captaincy had been seen as a fait accompli for Ablett after he agreed to leave Geelong and sign a multi-million-dollar Gold Coast contract.

Officially Ablett earned the nod via a player vote that also installed Bock and Brown as his deputies.

However, Ablett's style had been criticised - namely for his lack of presence around the team during the pre-season.

He was even described as "the invisible man", although he did have a good excuse as calf and groin complaints robbed him of a pre-season game.

But Bock said Ablett was revelling in the one honour that eluded him during his glittering Geelong career - the captaincy.

"He has really embraced the captaincy role," Bock said.

"He is someone who can really lead by example.

"We all know what a great player he is.

"I am looking forward to playing alongside him."

TV crews, photographers and reporters easily outnumbered the punters who braved the mud at the training paddock next to the $144 million Metricon Stadium under construction at Carrara.

No one from the boundary line could hear what Ablett said as he gathered his men but the dual premiership player gave an insight into his pre-match thoughts in his Gold Coast Bulletin column on Friday.

"As much as I loved my time at Geelong, I had achieved all I wanted to achieve as a team and an individual at the Cats," he wrote.

"I'll admit it was becoming repetitive and I was losing a bit of the enjoyment.

"If I had stopped enjoying it, then I would not want to play the game anymore.

"At the Suns there is a fresh challenge and I can create my own history with a new club."

Ablett said he was "looking forward" to being scrutinised during the season.

"If the team does not play well, the media will question my ability to lead," he wrote.

"And if my form isn't great, it will be questioned whether I am the same player I was without all these great players around me.

"I am expecting that, and in a way, I am looking forward to that."

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