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Sun sets on Ablett's captaincy


Gary Ablett's six-year reign as Gold Coast captain is over, with the under-siege AFL star standing down yesterday.

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And despite being contracted until the end of 2018, the 32-year-old has admitted the 2017 season might be his last in the AFL.

Ablett informed his teammates at training of the decision to relinquish the captaincy, after it was confirmed last month he had sought a trade from the club late last season to return to Geelong as he battled family issues.

That request was denied, and he also missed the opening days of pre-season training on a delayed honeymoon, prompting former Suns defender Campbell Brown to tweet that the 32-year-old’s teammates were dirty on him.

But Ablett and the club insisted the decision had been made between he and coach Rodney Eade at the end of last season.

“I feel it is the right time for a change, both for the club and for me,” Ablett said in a statement.

“When I got injured last season, we handed the role over to Tom Lynch and Steven May and both guys, with the help of their teammates, did an outstanding job.

“It became obvious to me then that we now have the calibre of leaders that are capable of leading the footy club into our next phase.”

Ablett had captained the Suns in 96 games since their foundation season, but only played 20 matches for the club in 2015 and 2016 as he battled ongoing shoulder issues.

However, he said matters off the field were more likely to end his career prematurely, and that he would discuss his future with the Suns at the end of 2017.

“In the back of my mind, I want to play two years, but I can’t guarantee that and that’s because of everything that’s going on in my personal life,” he told the AFL website.

“Trying to juggle football life and life outside football, I need to see where things are at the end of this year and I’ll make a decision then.”

But the two-time Brownlow Medallist reiterated his stance that he was wholly committed to the club as they attempted to make the finals for the first time in 2017.

“This will allow me to concentrate on my return from injury,” Ablett said.

“The last few years have been frustrating, having not been able to get out there and do what I love doing.

“I will do whatever I can to help my successor and his teammates.”

Eade said the club would be in a position to announce a new captain within the next month, with Lynch or May favoured to take the helm – or both to share the role.

“As a club, we have had some time to think through the process,” he said.

“Gary and I agreed on a transition a couple of months ago but it was appropriate that he tell his teammates first.”


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