Ablett offered to head back to Geelong, Suns reveal
AFL: You reckon the two Queensland teams will have new captains in season 2017?
It's safe to assume that will be the case, with the names of both the Lions' Tom Rockliff and the Suns' Gary Ablett having come up during the recent trade period.
Both, of course, will play on for their respective clubs, but the change they may have been seeking could simply come in the form of relinquishing their official leadership duties.
Rockliff had been openly linked to several clubs, from South Australia to Victoria, before opting to at least see out his contract with Brisbane - he has one year to run.
But the revelation was that Ablett too had politely inquired about a move back to Geelong ... only to have Gold Coast reject the offer faster than you can say "two-time Brownlow Medallist”.
Suns chairman Tony Cochrane, as is his way, was straight on the front foot, saying the news was the "greatest beat-up” and Ablett's request was merely to help free up some salary cap space.
"The captain doesn't want out ... it was his version of being a good Samaritan in a way, seeing what he could do to help out,” Cochrane told SEN radio.
"It's unfortunate that it's blown up.
"What actually took place was Gary, well before trade period, had a brief conversation with our head of football where he discussed, 'Look, if it helps to retain players, if you've got a salary cap issue or something, do you want me to consider going back to Geelong?'
"It was as simple as that. It was dismissed in the same width of time - 'no way in the world, Gary, you're absolutely wanted here', 'fantastic'; that was the end of it.”
That said, Cochrane acknowledged it was unlikely Ablett would remain as skipper.
"Gary's had a very frustrating few years with injury,” Cochrane said, adding the champ may be thinking "'What I need to do is free myself up so I can just get really fit and really concentrate on having an injury-free season.'”
While vice-captain Michael Rischitelli will miss most of the season as he recovers from a knee reconstruction, Tom Lynch and Steven May can be considered front-runners to usurp Ablett.
Up the road, two-time best and fairest Dayne Zorko must be the top contender to replace Rockliff in the role at Brisbane.