There is an enormous amount of pressure on players such as Michael Rischitelli to perform this week. The former Lion migrated to the Suns after a falling out from his old club and the lure of the money.
The 28 year old has now played the second fiddle to Ablett since being in the Gold Coast. This is in terms of second highest profile recruit, second most influential midfielder (at times) and second most experienced leader but now in the clubs most delicate period he needs to stand up.
No one is expecting the man to become Gary Ablett as there is only one of those, what is expected is that this senior player in a side that has one of the youngest midfields in the competition puts his hand up and leads from the front.
If Michael Rischitelli lays a bone crunching tackle two minutes into the game, takes a courageous mark or a lunges for a desperate smother it will tell the rest of the country that no Ablett simply means no worries. That the Suns have a belief that does not revolve around one man, an aurora around them, almost an arrogance to tell the rest of the competition we may be one man down, but that is all it it, one man.
Some may move to say that Dion Prestia, David Swallow, Jeager O’Meara and Harley Bennell will have to pick up the slack but these guys are already having career defining seasons and are all 21 or 20 years old.
The onus is on the senior players and that comes down to Michael Rischitelli, Jarrod Harbrow, Greg Broughton and to a lesser extent Tom Murphy who comes back for his first game this season. They are the only players that are lining up against the Dogs that have over 100 games experience.
Even the Dogs who are considered a young side have twice as many players with a 100 games experience under their belt. The Suns are emerging and young but lack experience and leadership.
They lost their captain and best player and now it is time for those other players that were lured to the club with big contracts to stand up and earn them because Gary Ablett has been doing that since day dot.
Who do you think needs to stand up this week against the Dogs? Can the Suns win for the first time ever without Gary Ablett?