Criticism of Gold Coast Suns, Ablett unwarranted
Gary Ablett after another Gold Coast Suns loss (Slattery Images)
Former Brownlow Medallist Gary Ablett and the Gold Coast Suns have faced intense scrutiny in season 2012. Much of this criticism, particularly that which has been pointed at Ablett, is unwarranted.
The Suns are just 33 games old in their brief history but have been scorched by the media following a winless, and at most times uncompetitive, start to the 2012 season.
It seems several factors have contributed to the Gold Coast’s disappointing sophomore year in the AFL.
Namely tactics, structure, on-field leadership and individual form have let them down.
The structure of the Suns has been non-existent this year; their game plan is unrecognisable.
Gold Coast CEO Travis Auld conceded his team’s lack of direction in an interview on The Footy Show.
“We made a decision in year one that the team would play a more free-flowing, man-on-man type of football,” he said.
“And in year two we would have to introduce some structures.”
It seems ridiculous to have let a young team, consisting of mostly first-year players, run around without structure for a whole year.
Where is the discipline and the education for these amateur footballers?
It is no wonder the Suns cannot carry out a game plan; they are used to running around with no rules, regulations or consequences.
Similarly the Suns could have benefited from extra on-field direction from their senior players.
Consider fellow expansion-franchise GWS Giants.
They employed several veteran players to fulfil on-field coaching roles.
Luke Power, Dean Brogan, James McDonald and Chad Cornes have provided wonderful leadership and direction for the young Giants.
These four have essentially controlled and directed proceedings while on the ground.
They ensure players are positioned accordingly for zones, kick-outs and stoppages, accelerating the “apprenticeship” of their first-year teammates.
While Gary Ablett has provided wonderful leadership for the Suns, he is arguably the only experienced player doing so.
The Suns have missed the experience of key defender Nathan Bock, who suffered a horrific injury earlier this year.
He and Ablett are the only Suns players mentoring their inexperienced colleagues.
The final consideration to ponder is the “second-year blues” syndrome, afflicted to players who struggle in their second season in the competition following an impressive debut year.
Former Rising Star winners Daniel Rich and Rhys Palmer have both suffered the second-year blues after setting the competition alight in their rookie years.
At the end of the day, it must be remembered the majority of these players are in just their second year, still adapting to the physical and mental demands of AFL football.
Criticism of these babies of the AFL is unwarranted as the second year is arguably tougher than the first.
Branded with expectations they were never going to meet, the Suns were always destined for failure in 2012.
Bad decisions have marred the Gold Coast Suns during their time in the AFL.
Hopefully these choices do not stunt the development of such talented young footballers.
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