As we all know the Geelong Cats secured the return of their beloved prodigal son during the AFL trade period ahead of next season. The organisation and fans were both delighted and many think that he may be the final piece of the puzzle to secure them another premiership flag, their first since 2011.

Some are not so convinced, though, and think that the ageing player may not be able to recreate the level of play that saw him rise to superstar status around Geelong. However, if you looked at Champion Data, the AFL’s primary statistics provider, you can see that it’s looking like a very shrewd investment for the club indeed.

Last season, the dual Brownlow Medal winner was the only midfielder to be rated elite for both metres gained as well as disposals. He maintained his elite kick from the previous year and was also rated elite for score involvements and clearances. According to the stats that he tallied up last season, it seems like the perfect time for the Cats to recruit him back after his seven-year stint with the Gold Coast Suns. If he plays anything like his record suggests from 2017, it may be an absolute masterstroke from Cats’ coach Chris Scott.

For the past two years, Geelong have suffered disappointment in the finals series, going out in the Preliminary Final on both occasions. In 2016 the Sydney Swans were too good defeating the Cats 97-60, and last season they were overcome by the Adelaide Crows who inflicted a heavy defeat of 136-75. Their loyal following will be looking to the side and Ablett to make it one better this coming season, and take them all the way to Grand Final.

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They are undoubtedly looking like a team that will challenge for the flag once again, with such a strong lineup available for coach Scott to select from. Currently, they are $9.00 to lift the trophy according to AFL betting, with the Crows, Sydney Swans and the GWS giants all equal favourites at $6.00. Last year’s premiers, the Richmond Tigers are the bookmakers fourth choice at present, and are a whisker ahead of the Cats on $8.00.

Age is the other thing that plays a major role in Geelong’s locker room these days, and this could be the season when they need to make the footy count. Some of their senior players may retire or move on in the not so distant future, and with many of them not getting any younger, some feel that it could be now or never if they wish to challenge for the flag with this era of players. The Cats have the second-highest number of players aged 25 or over, with Ablett the most senior player, turning 34 in May.

With the clock ticking on Ablett’s incredible skill set and ability, the Cats will be hoping for a huge start to their 2018 season. The anticipation of watching Patrick Dangerfield, Joel Selwood and Ablett all operating in the same midfield has every Cats’ fan holding their breath, and dreaming of a trip to the MCG at the end of September. One thing is certain ahead of round one in March, it’s going to be another incredible year of spectacular football.