GOLD Coast coach Guy McKenna says Nathan Ablett will be a certain starter for round one of the VFL season against Port Melbourne despite re-injuring his ankle in a local basketball match last week.
McKenna said the former Geelong premiership player had already proved himself and would be refreshed after having a week off training this week.
Gold Coast face the Borough in its season opener at Southport on April 10.
“He tweaked his ankle playing a sport which is probably the footballers’ curse which is basketball. He’s missed a week of training and it was too much of a risk for this week,” McKenna said.
“But he’s been there and done that, there’s not a lot that he has to prove to me as far as whether can he play the game. But he should be right for round one.”
McKenna said the shy-natured Ablett, who signed for one year with the Gold Coast in the VFL, wasn’t distracted by the talk surrounding the playing future of his brother and star Geelong on-baller Gary Ablett, who is reportedly fielding a lucrative offer from GC17.
“He (Nathan Ablett) understands what I expect of him as a player and leader of our group. And he’s going about his business like it’s just any other day,” he said.
“Obviously it’s a massive issue for Geelong, for Gary, for us the Gold Coast and the AFL. We can’t control that. We’ve said what we’re going to say on the matter. Gary’s done likewise, Geelong have done likewise. We’re not going to stop the speculation because we can’t,” he said.
McKenna said he wouldn’t use Nathan as a source to attract his brother to the club. Reportedly, Gary Ablett senior also has a property on the Gold Coast.
Nathan Ablett will be joined in the round one squad for Gold Coast with ex-Kangaroo Daniel Harris, ex-Collingwood midfielder Danny Stanley, ex-Sturt player Michael Coad and ex-Box Hill midfielder Sam Iles.
McKenna said former National Rugby League start Karmichael Hunt was still on track for a debut with the club in May as his French rugby union team Biarritz Olympique play finals next month.
McKenna expects Gold Coast to be playing its best football in the second half of the VFL season.
“We’ve got about 50 per cent of the team from the TAC Cup last year,” he said.
“They’re new to the system and will take a while to adapt to the travel. We won’t be playing our best football until later in the season.”
“Early on, we’ll be in fairly rough waters I’d think. But as we get on, we’ll start to hit our straps a bit better. We just need to keep seeing the boys development, that’s probably our mantra this year,” he said.
By Brent Diamond