THE SURGEON who performed reconstructive surgery on Gary Ablett's left shoulder on Thursday has told the club that the injury was worse than first thought.
Ablett was initially hoping he would be able to play out the season before going under the knife, but the Suns are now comfortable that sending him off for surgery was the right call.
"I just got an email from our club doctor … and he certainly said it was a wise decision in the end, because it was a bit banged up more than what the MRI showed," Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna said in Cairns on Friday morning.
"Apart from that, everything went well. All the staples and stitches are all in the right place, and he'll start his recovery."
However, the shoulder operation might not be Ablett's last bout of surgery for the year.
"He's got his thumb (problem) as well. We'll have to consider whether he has surgery on it as well," McKenna said.
"But he's in good spirits and looking forward to getting back up on the Coast and leading off the field, which is something new that Gary hasn't done on the Gold Coast too often.
"I think he's only missed five games in his time up here, so it will be a new adventure for him as well and something he's looking forward to getting his teeth into."
Gold Coast plays the Western Bulldogs at Cazaly's Stadium in Cairns on Saturday evening, and McKenna has thrown down the gauntlet to the Suns' second-tier midfielders to step up and help cover the loss of Ablett.
"You're not going to see a huge step up in Dion Prestia or David Swallow – those blokes whose output has been superb for most of the season," McKenna said.
"You might get a small movement, but it's the movement from underneath those boys … that's the thing we're looking forward to.
"(Ablett) plays 95 per cent of the game … so that's going to allow Jack Martin, Jesse Lonergan, Alex Sexton, some of these other fellas … a great opportunity.
"I don't think they subconsciously think, 'Gary's not here, I've got to jump in and fill the void.'
"I think what they do is see that ball that normally Gary would pick up at a stoppage or in a contested situation. They know that it's live now and they go after it.
"So the door shuts on Gary this season, but the door certainly flies open for some of these other boys to jump in and grab an opportunity."