‘I’m not the new Ablett’
HE looms as the heir to Gary Ablett's Gold Coast throne, but Jack Martin insists he is feeling no pressure to be the club's new midfield messiah.
Armed with a full pre-season in the Suns' engine room, Martin will be largely deployed in the midfield in 2018 after playing the bulk of his 66 games as the side's forward-line magician.
The Suns started life in the post-Ablett era with a 56-point win over an understrength Geelong on Sunday, with Martin featuring strongly in coach Stuart Dew's new game plan centred on defensive pressure.
While the 23-year-old West Australian concedes Geelong recruit Ablett will be missed in the club's push to climb out of the AFL cellar, he is adamant the weight of public expectation has not been shifted to his shoulders.
"I'm probably not one to put that pressure on myself but obviously Gary has been a champion of the club (and) a champion of the game so we've got some big shoes to fill," Martin said.
"I had a run through the midfield on the weekend and that was my good. It was my first real hit-out in the midfield and obviously with Gary departing it's nice there are a lot of guys that can go through there now this year.
"I've trained a whole summer through the midfield and done all the meetings, worked with the midfield coaches all summer. I've predominantly played most of my career up forward so I'll look to push more into the midfield in 2018.
"It's exciting, it's a new journey for us, a new coach, a new start and one we're looking forward to."
The Suns will welcome back co-captain Steven May and midfield leaders David Swallow and Michael Barlow for this Sunday's final pre-season clash with the Brisbane Lions, who were thumped by 55 points by Sydney last weekend.
While premiership points won't be on the line in the battle at Southport's Fankhauser Reserve, Martin said his side would be desperate to gain an early advantage on its southeast Queensland rival.
"I'd probably put it up there (as) one of the games I look forward to throughout the year. It's obviously a good rivalry, we respect them and I'm sure they respect us.
"Once we cross that line against the Lions it's bragging rights and the boys are looking forward to getting out there this Sunday and hopefully get the win again.
"It was good (against Geelong) to put into place what we've trained (for) over the pre-season. Obviously Dewey is a fresh face coming in (with) a different game plan and a different game style so we were able to get out there and put in place everything we've trained over the summer.
"It's always nice to start off like that."