In a shock today Gary Ablett and the Gold Coast Suns have announced that the best player in the game will take no further part in season 2014.
A positive scan on Monday revealed no bone damage and the football world waited on bated breath for positive news today, none came.
Hours ago a statement sent from Ablett and the Suns detailed the combined decision to undergo surgery on his dislocated shoulder after receiving advice from specialists.
Ablett maintained that it was the right decision; “This is the most significant injury of my playing career, and we have made the decision in the interest of my long-term playing career.”
This leaves the rising Suns without its figurehead, captain and undoubtably best player leading into the clubs first genuine attempt at playing in the finals.
He admitted that the prospect of finals weighed heavily on the decision “It has been a very difficult decision, in particular as there is a temptation to compromise my shoulder’s long-term movement, in a bid to get back and assist the team to make our first finals appearance.”
Ablett leads the club in disposals and is second in the clubs goal kicking and will now have to show his leadership from the stands rather than with Sherrin in hand.
Marcus Ashcroft, Gold Coast’s General Manager of Football Operations said that ““Gary has been presented with an extremely difficult decision; as a club we always have the long-term future of our players at the forefront of our minds when it comes to matters like these.”
Interpret as ‘Gary as a commodity is more important to the Suns over the next three or four years than the next two months’, the opposite could be argued.
Should Ablett have the capacity to play in this vital early chapter of the Gold Coast’s ever evolving history surely he would be.
If there was an option to play in two weeks in the Q-Clash, or at any stage for the rest of the year in a bid to secure a finals berth, surely he would be playing.
Player welfare is always first priority, as it should be, however you can only hope that if in six rounds time and the game is on the line against the Bombers and a spot in the finals is up for grabs, Gary Ablett isn’t sitting in the stands thinking, I could be out there.
The decision has thrown the football media landscape into a frenzy with numerous public figures tweeting about the implications it has on the Brownlow, the finals, the Suns and even the All Australian side.
Champion Data currently have Ablett (24) five votes ahead of ineligible Nat Fyfe (19) and 9 votes ahead of Collingwood’s Scott Pendlebury (15), will it be enough?
Brownlow betting has gone into chaos, Sportsbet have drastically changed their market and Ablett now sits at $8 and Scott Pendlebury is firm favourite at $3.
In a day the Brownlow has gone from being a formality to a wide open race, the Suns’ first finals appearance is now possible rather than probable and in a day we won’t even know if Gary Ablett will make his 8th All Australian side.
Never has a shoulder, or a bone crunching Maccaffer tackle changed the football landscape so quickly.
Will the Suns make the 8 without Ablett? Will he still win the Brownlow? Will he even make All Australian after playing just 15 games?