Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna says he is in no hurry to push captain Gary Ablett from midfield into the Suns’ forward line.
Gold Coast’s rising crop of midfield stars won’t rush a move to push captain Gary Ablett into the forward line, at least as far as Suns coach Guy McKenna is concerned.
Teenager Jack Martin is poised to join fellow West Australian Jaeger O’Meara as well as Dion Prestia, Harley Bennell and ex-AFL draft first pick David Swallow in the Suns’ midfield ranks.
Those options have prompted speculation Ablett could be used as a small forward for the Suns during the 2014 campaign.
But McKenna says he would be crazy to drag Ablett from a position where he has been the game’s dominant player for so long just to rest the 29-year-old’s body.
“Let’s be honest, he won a Brownlow playing in the midfield and we improved our percentage from 60 per cent to 90 per cent,” McKenna told AAP.
“I’m not saying it’s all about Gary but he certainly had a huge part to play in that. So I don’t just want to rip him out of the midfield and stick him up forward either.
“If he’s a strength of ours, and we know he’s a strength of ours in and around the clearances where the game is won and lost, well I want him in there.”
McKenna said only when he feels his captain needs a break will he contemplate a shift forward and that he’ll let the two-time Brownlow Medallist make that call.
“We don’t want to squeeze him dry and leave him in the midfield, playing 87-89 per cent, and shorten his career,” he said.
“We need to extend his career as best we can. Speak to Gary, it’s him trusting and believing in the midfield group, which I think clearly after what happened last season he does have that faith and trust in them.
“It could be more him telling me where his body’s at.”
McKenna also believes former Brisbane Lion Michael Rischitelli’s return to top form will be like a new mature-age signing for the club, along with Nathan Bock’s availability after his battle to return from a badly broken leg.
“Nathan’s going to be in a lot better nick for us and we know the quality of him,” McKenna said.
“Michael Rischitelli, he’s probably had the best pre-season we’ve seen him have.
“It’s really exciting to almost have an internal trade if you like. Really excited about those two boys.”