Gary Ablett ruled out of Suns' season-ending clash
THE Gold Coast Suns' plans have been thrown into disarray with Gary Ablett failing a fitness test ahead of the Port Adelaide game.
Suns officials were confident Ablett, 33, would overcome the hamstring injury that has plagued the back end of the star's year and take his place for the last game of the AFL regular season.
But club confirmed on Thursday night that Ablett was not over his injury and had withdrawn from the match.
Gold Coast football manager Marcus Ashcroft delivered the devastating news.
"Gaz gave himself the best opportunity to play this weekend," Ashcroft said.
"But unfortunately at training this evening he simply could not reach the speed required to be passed fit to play this weekend."
Young gun Jack Bowes also failed a fitness test with the Suns forced to bring Mitch Hallahan and Brad Scheer into the side to cover their injuries. The late Ablett withdrawal would have stunned the Suns with interim coach Dean Solomon earlier confident of having the dual-Brownlow Medal winner on the park.
"I had a really good conversation with him five minutes ago and he said, 'I'm feeling really confident'," Solomon said at Thursday's press conference.
"You back in his judgment. He's earnt a lot of trust over the years and knows his body better than all of us. But he's ready to go, (a) massive chance."
The loss of Ablett will also put a dent in Solomon's plans to put the brakes on dominant Port Adelaide ruckman Paddy Ryder.
Gold Coast's ruck stocks are severely depleted and Solomon is prepared for the likelihood that Keegan Brooksby will be in for a tough time with Ryder, who is in the frame for All-Australian selection.
Solomon played with Ryder in 2006 when both were at Essendon and planned to use the return of Ablett and Jarryd Lyons in the midfield to focus on winning the ball at ground level.
"We will have different looks in and around the ruck," Solomon said.
"At different times Pete (Wright) will spend a bit more time there with Keegan.
"Has anyone really dominated Paddy this year? Probably not. So we have to look at our positioning in and around ground level."