JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

One rule for Gary Ablett, another for everyone else

'Whispers from within the Suns tell me that there is one rule for Gary Ablett and one rule for the rest of the players.'

'Whispers from within the Suns tell me that there is one rule for Gary Ablett and one rule for the rest of the players.' Photo: Getty Images

Are there two sets of rules when it comes to star players at clubs? Do they get preferential treatment to others? The answer is yes. It’s undeniable. It’s been a part of sport for eternity.

While the landscape has changed in the way clubs and coaches go about their business, some still have their untouchables.

You only have to look at the Essendon situation and their favourite son James Hird. Would anyone else other than Hirdy still be at the club if he wasn’t one of the Bombers’ most loved?

By no means am I suggesting that he shouldn’t be there until the ASADA case is done and dusted, but who, other than Hird, would have survived this far?

Which leads me to the best player in the competition and arguably the best onballer the game has seen, Gary Ablett.

No one is disputing how good Ablett is and how well he prepares for the game. In fact it’s obvious that his individual preparation that includes his diet, lifestyle and recovery results in exceptional performances. Although recent murmurings coming out of Queensland make me wonder if there is actually still room for improvement for the dual Brownlow medallist.

Whispers from within the club’s walls tell me that there is one rule for Ablett and one rule for the rest of the Suns players. They can be the smallest things, yet mean so much to an impressionable, young and talented group. Important to the team success is that the captain attends all team sessions; weights, ice baths, recovery and warm-up sessions, and also accepts criticism from the coach in front of the group. 

The captain preferring to warm-up for training sessions by shooting hoops doesn’t send the right message to the team. Although these sessions may not sound as important as his on-field leadership, they still have a profound effect on such a young group. 

They teach players to learn about their body and how to best prepare it for sustainable success on the ground, which Ablett clearly does very well. They’re also lessons about responsibility, dedication, hard work and humility.

I’m not suggesting that there is discontent at the Suns, but there is certainly whispers among the playing group that “that’s Gary and Gary can get away with it because, well, he’s Gary!”

In hindsight, I now see clearly that rules were also bent for me. Although not the same rules, it still created a form of elitism. Jibes in the locker room ensued and I was nicknamed at one point Steve Seagal – ''above the law''.

In the thick of it, there are many people in football clubs that don’t have the courage to confront their star players and tell them where it’s really at.

The Suns’ coach, Guy McKenna, will deny any suggestion his superstar is getting preferential treatment, but to hear the murmurs within the club tells me that the rules may be being bent for the Gold Coast champion.

It’s easy to see why Ablett would be afforded special treatment and his every wish. He’s been a star for the club both on and off the field. He earns more $1 million a year and is worth that and more.

The impact that he’s had on the playing group in his brief years at the Suns has transformed them into a genuinely competitive team. From afar, he appears the epitome of what leadership is all about on the ground.

McKenna should be doing everything in his power to ensure Ablett remains just one of the boys and that all of his excellence in preparation is passed on to his teammates in every session, all of the time.

Ablett might not like, or agree, with some of the sessions the Suns undertake, but he should do them regardless.

He might not like some of the feedback coming his way, but he should take it on the chin. If he has a problem with it, then he should address it privately.

The single most important factor about footy is that it’s a team game and you’ll usually find that the really good teams are absolutely united in everything they do.

Preferential treatment to any player can cause small fractures.

If there are issues at the Suns, then I wonder how it is affecting the playing group and how they view their coach? Could there be resentment? Will some of these talented, gifted, future stars of the competition expect the same set of rules when they reach the same level as Gazza?

Could you imagine Nathan Buckley or Chris Scott bending the rules for Scott Pendlebury or Joel Selwood?

If it is happening at the Suns, perhaps it is because everyone is still learning. Ablett is three-and-a-half years into the job, as is McKenna as a senior coach.

He may very well finish his career as the greatest onballer the game has ever seen and McKenna a premiership coach in the near future.

In Ablett's case, even being one the greatest, there is always room for improvement.

6 comments

  • I agree Wayne, captains should be encouraged to do and share everything with their team mates, whether they like it or not...

    Commenter
    GKB
    Location
    in bed
    Date and time
    June 19, 2014, 5:47PM
    • Ouch!

      Commenter
      asdf
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      June 19, 2014, 7:04PM
  • Did you hear McKenna talk about Gary on the Sunday Inquisition earlier in the year? He spoke of some regret giving Gary leeway early in his time at the Suns to go back home after matches in Melbourne, taking a few days off to see family and friends. He regretted it because it wasn't at Gary's insistence, it was McKenna's idea and he encouraged it. But he didn't realise the message this was sending the rest of the young playing group. So I think this article is coming a few years late - the issue has been dealt with. While Gary probably still has more flexibility than others at the club, it's a non-issue these days.

    Commenter
    Bogg
    Location
    NZ
    Date and time
    June 19, 2014, 5:54PM
    • Yes, it is a fact of life.. and good luck to those who can command this special treatment, they have earned the right by their endeavors and results anyway.. no tall poppy syndrome here..

      Commenter
      John
      Location
      Singapore
      Date and time
      June 19, 2014, 5:59PM
      • Slow news day Wayne?

        Commenter
        James
        Date and time
        June 19, 2014, 7:09PM
        • Wayne is wrong - the Suns have an excellent culture:
          * They sacked Campbell Brown after he struck a team-mate: they put their team and their values ahead of the individual. The team thrived as a result
          * They sacked Robinson and Dank because of they were uncomfortable with their methods, a fantastic example of their values and strength of leadership. Robinson and Dank then went to Essendon and the rest is history.

          Commenter
          James
          Location
          Geelong
          Date and time
          June 19, 2014, 7:10PM
          Comments are now closed

          AFL 2015

          Round 1
          Thu, 02 AprTimes shown AEDT
          CAR 78vs RIC 105 Report Stats
          Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
          MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
          SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
          BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
          WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
          Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
          STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
          ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
          FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
          Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
          HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 2
          Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
          WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
          Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
          RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
          GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
          COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
          GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
          PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
          Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
          GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
          ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
          NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 3
          Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
          COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
          Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
          CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
          ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
          SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
          NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
          BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
          Sun, 19 AprTimes shown AEST
          HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
          GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
          WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 4
          Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
          RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
          Sat, 25 AprTimes shown AEST
          STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
          ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
          GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
          PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
          FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
          Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
          BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
          GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
          WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 5
          Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
          CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
          Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
          RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
          SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
          GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
          NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
          WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
          Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
          MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
          STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
          ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 6
          Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
          COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
          Sat, 09 MayTimes shown AEST
          NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
          WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
          GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
          GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
          MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
          FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
          Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
          CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
          PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 7
          Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
          ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
          Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
          ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
          HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
          CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
          SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
          WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
          Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
          WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
          RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
          BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 8
          Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
          GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
          Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
          STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
          GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
          GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
          HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
          FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
          Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
          ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
          MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
          PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 9
          Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
          SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
          Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
          HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
          MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
          WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
          RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
          ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
          Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
          BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
          COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
          WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 10
          Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
          FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
          Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
          CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
          GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
          ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
          PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
          Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
          GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
          NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
          STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
          Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
          MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 11
          Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
          PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
          Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
          GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
          WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
          NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
          Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
          COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
          STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 12
          Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
          ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
          Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
          RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
          Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
          CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
          GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
          WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
          Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
          GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 13
          Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
          FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
          Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
          SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
          Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
          HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
          BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
          STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
          Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
          CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 14
          Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
          SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
          Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
          COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
          Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
          RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
          GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
          WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
          MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
          Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
          ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
          ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
          FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 15
          Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
          PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
          Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
          RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
          Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
          ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
          WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
          NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
          WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
          Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
          GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
          HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
          BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 16
          Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
          NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
          Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
          GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
          GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
          COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
          SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
          FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
          Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
          MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
          PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
          STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 17
          Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
          CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
          Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
          GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
          ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
          RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
          ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
          BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
          Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
          WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
          MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
          WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 18
          Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
          HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
          Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
          GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
          COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
          SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
          CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
          GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
          Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
          PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
          ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
          FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 19
          Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
          ADE 88vs RIC 52 Report Stats
          Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
          COL 105vs CAR 87 Report Stats
          WBU 128vs PTA 64 Report Stats
          BRI 100vs GCF 114 Report Stats
          GEE 95vs SYD 63 Report Stats
          WCE 74vs HAW 88 Report Stats
          Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
          MEL 92vs NTH 127 Report Stats
          GWS 93vs ESS 61 Report Stats
          STK 59vs FRE 96 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 20
          Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
          SYD 87vs COL 76 Report Stats
          Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
          ESS 59vs ADE 171 Report Stats
          NTH 120vs STK 83 Report Stats
          PTA 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
          GEE 85vs HAW 121 Report Stats
          BRI 131vs CAR 67 Report Stats
          Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
          RIC 138vs GCF 55 Report Stats
          WBU 153vs MEL 55 Report Stats
          FRE 80vs WCE 104 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 21
          Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
          HAW 86vs PTA 108 Report Stats
          Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
          COL 56vs RIC 147 Report Stats
          GWS 44vs SYD 133 Report Stats
          GCF 97vs ESS 95 Report Stats
          STK 97vs GEE 97 Report Stats
          ADE 131vs BRI 44 Report Stats
          Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
          NTH 94vs FRE 83 Report Stats
          CAR 78vs MEL 55 Report Stats
          WCE 162vs WBU 85 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 22
          Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
          GEE 62vs COL 110 Report Stats
          Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
          GWS 132vs CAR 51 Report Stats
          HAW 134vs BRI 62 Report Stats
          NTH 73vs WBU 96 Report Stats
          ESS 47vs RIC 74 Report Stats
          GCF 51vs PTA 88 Report Stats
          Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
          ADE 126vs WCE 69 Report Stats
          STK 38vs SYD 135 Report Stats
          FRE 108vs MEL 54 Report Stats
          View All Fixtures
          Round 23
          Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
          RIC vs NTH 19:50ES
          Sat, 05 SepTimes shown AEST
          GEE ($2.75)vs ADE ($1.42) 13:05SS
          BRI ($5.00)vs WBU ($1.15) 13:45G
          PTA vs FRE 15:50Adelaide Oval
          HAW ($1.01)vs CAR ($15.00) 16:40MCG
          SYD ($1.05)vs GCF ($8.50) 19:20SCG
          WCE ($1.05)vs STK ($8.50) 19:40Domain Stadium
          Sun, 06 SepTimes shown AEST
          MEL vs GWS 13:10ES
          COL vs ESS 15:20MCG
          View All Fixtures
          AFL 2015
          Overall standings
          Team P W L D % Pts
          Fremantle 21 17 4 0 125.10 68
          West Coast Eagles 21 15 5 1 143.00 62
          Hawthorn 21 15 6 0 156.77 60
          Sydney Swans 21 15 6 0 124.11 60
          Richmond 21 14 7 0 121.39 56
          Western Bulldogs 21 14 7 0 116.76 56
          Adelaide Crows 20 13 7 0 119.10 54
          North Melbourne 21 13 8 0 109.08 52
          View all
           

          Follow Us on Facebook

          Featured advertisers