GOLD Coast captain Gary Ablett has chosen to miss the annual AFL captain's day in Melbourne as he attempts to prove his fitness for next week's season opener.
The Suns superstar didn't play in any of the club's pre-season matches as he continues his comeback from a shoulder reconstruction following last year's season-ending injury against Collingwood in Round 16.
In a brief statement released by the club on Tuesday, Suns chief executive Andrew Travis confirmed Ablett would skip Wednesday's season-launching media function to continue his preparations to be fit for the April 4 clash with Melbourne at the MCG.
"Following on-going discussions with Gary and our medical and rehabilitation staff, the club has advised the AFL that Gary will be unavailable to attend the event," Travis said.
"As everyone is aware Gary is racing the clock to be declared fit for our round one game against Melbourne."
Travis said Ablett had passed up three days of leave this week to continue his training program as he tries to convince coach Rodney Eade to pick him for the Demons' clash.
"Had Gary missed this critical part of his rehabilitation, and travelled to Melbourne, his chances of being ready for round one would be compromised," Travis said.
"The club supports Gary and will give him every possible chance to prove his fitness to be part of the start of the 2015 AFL season."
An AFL spokesman said the League understood and accepted Ablett's decision.
"We were appreciative of being kept informed by the Gold Coast Suns and the AFL understands Gary’s strong commitment to do everything possible to be on the field for round one after an extensive rehab program," the spokesman told AFL.com.au.
"We understand his absence and will work around that on the day, knowing that Gary has always provided a great representation of his club at previous captains’ days."
The Suns will send Michael Rischitelli to fill-in for Ablett at the captain's day.