AFL: Gary Ablett has relinquished the captaincy of the Gold Coast Suns.
The 32-year-old revealed to his teammates today that he and senior coach Rodney Eade had met at the end of the season and agreed that the time was right for a change in leadership.
"Rocket and I spoke regularly about the captaincy and our depth of leadership. We have been doing a lot of work over the past two seasons with our next generation of leaders and it has been paying off,” Ablett said.
"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 spent nine years with Geelong before joining the fledgling Suns in 2011 when the best player in the game and immediately took on the role of skipper.
"It has been an honour to be the inaugural captain of the Gold Coast Suns and I have really enjoyed the job,” he said.
"I am pleased that I have been able to play a role in developing many of our players into future leaders of the team and I will do whatever I can to help my successor and his teammates.
"I feel it is the right time for a change, both for the club and for me. This will allow me to concentrate on my return from injury as the last few years have been frustrating having not been able to get out there and do what I love doing.”
Eade paid tribute to Ablett, who won his second Brownlow Medal in 2013, but has battled injury the past three seasons, and even enquired about a possible trade back to Geelong last month.
"To captain any AFL club is a great achievement, to captain a start-up club has its extra challenges and at times it was not an easy task, but Gary's leadership continued to grow and he can be proud of the job he has done,” Eade said.
"Gary and I agreed on a transition a couple of months ago but it was appropriate that he tell his teammates first.
"As a club we have had some time to think through the process and we will be in a position to appoint a captain in the coming weeks.
"Over the last couple of years we have been focussed on growing the leadership capabilities of all of our players and what we have now is a group of players who want to own and drive the future direction of the Gold Coast Football Club.
"2017 will see a new-look Suns. Not only will we move into our new $22million training and administration base, but we will have a new captain and nine new players, all of whom are capable of making an immediate impact in the upcoming season and that's pretty exciting.”
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