Is Gary Ablett Jnr the greatest to ever pull on a suns jersey, a man who has given more of himself than anyone in the Gold Coast Suns short history?
Or is he a selfish, disruptive force that threatens to not only contaminate the new crop of top-end talent at the club, but to irreparably damage the clubs image and diminished self-respect?
Right at this moment he is both.
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Moments like this are what the true foundations of clubs are built on and the Suns board need to decide very quickly whether they want to govern over concrete or quicksand.
Outcome 1 – Gazza Stays
Many people have chosen to forget recently just how amazingly good and beloved Gaz was at the Suns during the early years.
In his first year at the club, he averaged 31 touches whilst kicking 44.23, all the while being tagged by the game’s greatest shutdown men in an era when they were very prominent.
For half a decade he carried the club both on and off field, averaging 31 disposals and over a goal a game.
Injuries and a longing for home have combined to impact on his contested footy and defensive ability in recent seasons, but if Gaz looks the Suns’ board or new coach in the eye and tells them he wants in, then great.
In 2018 he plays in the forward pocket and kicks his 50 goals whilst helping out in bursts through the midfield as the new wave of young mids get their full chance to flourish as genuine on-ballers.
Outcome 2 – Gazza Requests a Trade
This is where things get prickly, but when that happens, good clubs double down and fight twice as hard to get the outcome they need.
Anyone telling you Geelong don’t want Gaz are either deliberately fibbing or have no clue, so ignore them.
Geelong want Gaz so badly they can smell the marketing millions alone and are currently playing a fairly average hand pretty darn well via the press.
If Gaz requests a trade then the Suns should treat him with the respect he deserves and try to facilitate it, communicating to Gaz all along that if the club doesn’t secure what they need then he won’t be traded and will have to retire.
If they have not already, the Suns need to forget about the heavily front-ended 500k payday Gaz has already got.
It was poor financial management and dwelling on it can only serve to compound the error – all said and done, Gaz probably earnt it over the stretch anyway so just let it go.
The club must be completely focused on getting a trade that benefits their list – namely an experienced, attacking key position defender to help out Steven May (think a Harry Taylor or Michael Hurley type).
Most importantly it is not the Suns responsibility to secure this gun player, the onus is on the club that wants Gary Ablett.
If the Suns don’t adopt a ‘we get what we want or we don’t deal’ attitude here, then no matter who or what they receive for Ablett they will have already lost.
Thinking such as ‘he was going anyway, we may as well get something’ discounts the greater credibility and self-respect battles that are currently being fought on several fronts by the Suns.
Whatever happens, both the Suns and Gaz can still get out of this mess with win/win results, so long as they are brave enough when it counts.