GEELONG, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 30: Gary Ablett of the Suns listens in as Rodney Eade, Senior Coach of the Suns addresses his players during the 2016 AFL Round 06 match between the Geelong Cats and the Gold Coast Suns at Simonds Stadium, Geelong on April 30, 2016. (Photo by Adam Trafford/AFL Media/Getty Images)

Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade says Gary Ablett’s absence from the Suns’ leadership group was completely the former skipper’s decision, rather the club’s.

Ablett, who stood down from the captaincy late last year, decided he did not want have an official leadership position at the club this season, as he focuses on getting himself fit and in form, following an injury riddled three years.

Steven May and Tom Lynch will share the captaincy duties, while Michael Rischitelli, Matt Rosa and David Swallow have retained their spots in the group, and are joined by new Sun Michael Barlow and Touk Miller to round out the seven-man leadership team.

“When Gary spoke to me at the end of August, that he didn’t want to keep going with the captaincy, he wanted to relinquish that, he had indicated then that he probably didn’t want to be in the leadership group if that was ok,” Eade told SEN radio on Tuesday evening.

“He confirmed that in September and it was more about getting his shoulder right and some other things going on, that he wanted to concentrate on footy.

“It’s not going to change his leadership that he’s displayed and he’s certainly going to help Steven (May) and Tom (Lynch)…he wants to help mentor them.”

Eade said he believes the two-time Brownlow Medalist can return to form in 2017, and freeing himself of the captaincy can help him to achive that.

“I think having the injuries for two years with his shoulder, I think he wants to work hard in getting that right and return to his best form.

“You can only judge a player’s demeanour and the way they attack training, and both are very positive at this stage.

“He’s up and about, he seems to be in a very good headspace and is training well, and is not far off from doing contested work.”