For his sixth consecutive season, dual brownlow medallist Gary Ablett has been named captain of the Gold Coast SUNS.
Alongside his three vice-captains Tom Lynch, Steven May and Dion Prestia, and a wider leadership group, Ablett will be seeking to further advance the professionalism of the team and ultimately create a lasting legacy.
“We’ve got 10 guys in the leadership group this year which is a bit different to what a lot of clubs do, but every one of those 10 guys deserve to be in it and I’m looking forward to seeing them grow over the next 12 months and playing some good footy,” Ablett told SUNS TV.
“You look at all the great sides, Hawthorn, even in my Geelong days, and a couple of other sides who have had success over the past 10 years, they’ve got so many leaders at the club and we knew that’s where we needed to get to and we feel like we’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
Ablett admits he couldn’t do it alone and together with the wider leadership group is hoping to instigate a culture that every player buys into.
“I’ve spoken about that many times, you need 22 leaders out there,” he said.
READ: GC SUNS confirm leadership
“Everyone’s got their different styles of leading and there’s been a lot of hard work go in over the last 12 months, first of all to bring some of the younger guys out of their shells and making sure that we’re always learning, always improving.”
While the star midfielder was forced to spend the majority of the 2015 season watching from the sidelines, he took the opportunity to impart his knowledge on the emerging players.
“It was hard watching for much of the season last year but I’m looking forward to jumping into this year and getting back to play some consistent footy, hopefully playing 22 games,” he said.
“I’ve been in the system for 15 years now, a lot of experience, played under a lot of good leaders, and the first thing is obviously leading by example but the second thing is helping these younger guys grow in whatever area they need too.”
“I’m enjoying that, not just seeing them grow as footballers but also as people and that’s why I’m excited to jump back into this year and hopefully play some finals footy.”
When reflecting upon his role as captain, Ablett conveyed a desire to continuously learn, achieve personal growth and develop his approach to leadership.
“You’re always learning,” he said.
“I need to continue to improve in certain areas. I’m always open to feedback and that’s the great thing about the coaches and the rest of the guys in the leadership group, we are continuously challenging each other and making sure that we are taking steps forward.
READ: Steven May elevated to vice-captain
“There is definitely some things that the leadership group have hit me up about and I just want to make sure that I improve in that area and continue to do things well that I already do well. “
Heading into the 2016 season Ablett says he is feeling confident in his body and the rehabilitation work over previous months has placed him in a good position.
“The body is feeling great, the knee is feeling really good, I’ve probably done 95% of this pre-season,” he said.
“Shoulder is feeling good as well, put a lot of time into it over the last 6 months really strengthening it up and making sure I’ve got the range back.
“I’m super excited about this year.”