It’s probably fair to say the whole world and their mother knew that Gary Ablett wanted to return to Geelong during his final couple of years on the Gold Coast, and the 33-year old finally got his dream move in October. Now back at the club where he scored 262 goals in 192 appearances, Ablett is now hoping to enjoy the same level of success he did before making his lucrative move to the Gold Coast in 2011. While the two-time Brownlow medallist is carrying a couple more injuries and a good few more miles on his clock since he last pulled on a Cats jersey, the veteran’s return to Geelong has been met with overwhelming positivity from the club’s fans.
Expected to slip into the Geelong forward line, Ablett has made it clear he is also excited to work alongside the Cats exciting midfield duo of Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood. During his first spell at the club, where his father remains a legend, Ablett appeared in three successive grand finals, winning two flags as well as lifting the Brownlow Medal, something his father never managed. A five-year deal worth $9 million was enough to tempt him to move to the Gold Coast Suns, and while his bank account was satisfied, Ablett’s professional goals never came close to being met during his time with the club.
While Ablett continued to do what he does during his time on the Gold Coast, the rest of the team failed to match his levels. Despite racking up huge possession numbers, kicking goals and leading by example, Ablett’s talent wasn’t enough to help the Gold Coast become a real power. Now back in Geelong, where the Cats are priced at around 9/1 in the latest AFL odds this season, Ablett will play in a team that finished 2nd last year and are expected to be real contenders again in 2018.
Ablett’s focus certainly appears to be firmly on the upcoming campaign in Geelong, with the veteran pulling out of the International Rules series in order to focus on getting fully fit for the new campaign. Appearing in the series would have given Ablett the chance to link-up with new teammate Patrick Dangerfield and play alongside Joel Selwood once again. The series, which saw Australia run out 2-0 winners, was another successful pair of games between the two, and Ablett’s absence wasn’t felt too badly by the Australians.
For Ablett, the only real concern heading into the new season will be whether he can handle a gruelling 22-game campaign. A shoulder problem plagued the eight-time All Australian for much of his time on the Gold Coast, and the hope is that the Cats can manage his workload better than the Suns did. The fact he won’t be the only true elite player in his new team should certainly help in that area, and Ablett should be able to lean on his colleagues much more than he has been able to over the past seven years on the Gold Coast.