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Suns should part ways with Ablett: Bomber

Football

Former Geelong coach Mark Thompson believes Gold Coast will eventually part with struggling AFL star Gary Ablett.

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The dual Brownlow medallist’s future is the subject of heavy conjecture after an underwhelming start to the season, having been denied a trade back to Geelong at the end of last year.

Ablett’s listless form has coincided with a disastrous start for the Suns, including a 102-point drubbing by Greater Western Sydney.

The 32-year-old Ablett has two years left on his multi-million dollar contract and Gold Coast have insisted he will see them out.

But Thompson, who coached Ablett’s Geelong side to premierships in 2007 and 2009, says he doubts the Suns would block another trade request.

“I think if he wants to go back, it’s almost set up now that you shouldn’t stand in people’s ways, should you?,” Thompson told the Seven Network.

“If that’s the case, he’s just got to say it and they’ll probably let him go.”

Ablett’s 16 disposals against the Giants was one of his lowest returns in recent memory, and the veteran also copped criticism for a perceived lack of defensive effort.

“It looked like he was disinterested, it looked like he wasn’t happy to be playing mainly in the forward line,” Carlton premiership coach Robert Walls told Fox Footy.

“He’s got to get over that. The team goes before the individual.

“He’s got to realise… at nearly 33 years of age, his best is behind him but he can help the team if he goes forward and does a job for them up there.”

But Thompson backed the eight-time All-Australian to improve his performance after playing just 14 games last season.

“He’s not Superman,” Thompson said.

“No one can just jump in and turn the button on and just play how (they) want.

“He’ll run into some good form.”

Meanwhile, Gold Coast chief Mark Evans has leapt to the defence of besieged coach Rodney Eade, dismissing speculation about his future as “ridiculous”.

Third-year coach Eade has copped heavy criticism after the Suns’ dreadful start to the AFL season, including an upset loss to Brisbane before the weekend’s capitulation to GWS.

The Suns finished 16th in Eade’s first year in charge in 2015 and 15th last season, and there is growing speculation he will not last the year if they continue to struggle.

But Evans, who served as the AFL’s football operations boss before replacing Andrew Travis as the Suns’ chief executive in February, yesterday rubbished questions about Eade’s future.

“We deserve to be in the spotlight. It certainly wasn’t a good performance,” he told SEN radio.

“What I won’t buy into – how ridiculous at round two – (is) calling into question things about a coach’s future.

“That’s just not a relevant conversation for me. My only conversation with ‘Rocket’ has been ‘where do you think we’re at? What do you think we need to do this week? Is there anything you need from us and how can we help?’”

The Suns were forced to deny that Evans had been parachuted into the chief executive role because of the AFL’s concerns about their performance on and off the field.

Many of their best players have departed, former coach Guy McKenna was sacked and, in six seasons, the Suns have never finished better than 12th on the ladder despite being gifted a wealth of priority draft picks.

Evans said he had faith that the Suns could turn around their performance but admitted they needed to improve their intensity and effort.

“I’ve seen eight quarters of footy,” he said.

“There’s been some disappointment in probably five of those quarters. My mind hasn’t changed yet as to the scope of the possibilities of the place.”

Elsewhere, Melbourne duo Jordan Lewis and Jesse Hogan have accepted suspensions for striking offences during Sunday’s AFL win over Carlton.

Lewis coped a three-match ban for his challenge on Blues onballer Patrick Cripps and Hogan took a two-game suspension for striking Sam Rowe.

Cripps suffered a fractured jaw and is in doubt for Sunday’s clash with Essendon.

A medical report from Carlton was part of the evidence assessed by the match review panel before Lewis was charged, with the incident classed as intentional with medium impact to the head.

The former Hawthorn onballer has a bad tribunal record, which increased his penalty from two to three games.

Melbourne risked adding another game to their penalties if they went to the tribunal and were unsuccessful.

The behind-play incidents followed Bernie Vince being suspended for a similar offence during Melbourne’s opening-round win over St Kilda.

“We’ve spoken to our players about the three of them being involved in three incidents over the last two weeks – three off-the-ball incidents,” Melbourne football boss Josh Mahoney said today.

“We want to be known as a competitive, contested team and these incidents don’t in any way reflect how we want to be viewed.

“The MRP grading and the medical reports make it very difficult to challenge any element of the charges, so we’ll be accepting both the early pleas for both cases.”

Mahoney said the suspensions would create opportunities for others to come into the unbeaten Melbourne side for their important clash with Geelong at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

Hawthorn great Jason Dunstall slammed the actions of Lewis and Hogan as “irresponsible”.

“Jesse Hogan is only a young player but he’s a key player,” Dunstall told Fox Footy last night.

“This is a young team that has won their first couple of games and are ready to go somewhere. You can’t do it without your good players.”

-AAP

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