NOT EVEN boos from the North Melbourne faithful could stop Gold Coast star Gary Ablett on Saturday night, as he answered his critics with a stunning performance against the Roos.
The dual Brownlow medalist was superb at Etihad Stadium, amassing 45 disposals (27 contested) and a career-high 18 clearances in the 13-point loss to North Melbourne on Saturday night.
Earlier this season, Ablett's on-field body language was scrutinised, as was his defensive ability.
But against North Melbourne he hit back at his critics with a brilliant all round performance, which also included nine tackles.
While Ablett was unable to drag his side to victory, coach Rodney Eade was full of praise for his former skipper.
"His game was fantastic," Eade told reporters after the 13-point loss.
"I thought he worked extremely hard. He was criticised in round two for work rate and defensive running and I thought he was terrific.
"Apart from his clearance work and winning the ball, his willingness and [ability] to lead from the front was great."
Astonishingly, it was the 21st time in Ablett's career he has gathered 40 disposals or more in a game.
Never has that been achieved before by a player in the game, and there is no doubt that the eight-time All Australian will go down as one of the greatest players of all time.
But despite being one of the most decorated players in the modern era, Ablett was roundly booed by a section of North Melbourne fans for most of the night.
The star midfielder has an unbelievable track record against the Roos, having averaged 33 disposals and eight clearances against them in his last six encounters prior to Saturday night's round six clash.
Eade was at a loss to explain why anyone would boo the 32-year-old.
"I would have thought a great of the game, who has achieved what he has achieved, and being as clean a ball player as he has been, that would be disappointing that the supporters would do that," Eade said.
"I wouldn't know why they would want to do that."
The Suns now sit 2-4 for the season after Saturday night's loss, with Eade lamenting his side's skill errors.
The coach said a loss of concentration and focus during games was a key reason behind his side's inconsistent performances so far in 2017.
He was also quick to remind reporters that the Suns are one of the youngest teams in the competition.
Despite that, Eade said he would not recalibrate expectations for the Suns this year, declaring finals a realistic goal for his young group.
"I think the expectation is because we have been in the competition now for six years, and maybe we're having a second coming, people don't [realise how young we are]," he said.
"But that's fine, internally we know what our expectations are. I think the feel is generally that we should push towards the eight and that's fair enough because that is our expectations as well and I don’t think we should lower that.
"That's the reality, we are young and one of the youngest in the competition, and that's fine but that's no excuse."
Gold Coast hosts Geelong at Metricon Stadium next Saturday night, before heading to China to face Port Adelaide the following week.
The Suns will regain co-captain Steven May (hamstring) and midfielder David Swallow (managed) for the clash against the Cats.
While key defender Rory Thompson is also expected to be available for selection after missing the past two games with a quad injury.