Recent news out of Geelong suggest that Gold Coast Suns bolter and two-time Brownlow medal winner Gary Ablett is nursing a minor hamstring sprain and is doing everything in his club’s and his power to be ready for a Round 1 match with the Melbourne Demons when the two clubs begin home-and-away play in the 2018 Toyota AFL Premiership Competition.
News it may be, but surprising news?
Nothing of the sort.
Ablett is over 33, at a point where all the running, tackling and other forms of contact have accumulated over the course of 16 seasons and 302 games of AFL play.
It could be said that he has been limited in the past four seasons with the Suns, making just 49 appearances out of 88 opportunities. As Sir Mick was fond of saying, “What a drag it is, getting old.”
For any in the audience who has not had the experience, what the AFL jargon calls a minor hamstring strain would mean missed work.
Ablett was hurt and left the field with hamstring stiffness when he jumped for a mark during match simulation. Muscles do not know the difference between simulation and the real thing.
Ablett will miss playing against his old side when the two meet in Townsville of Sunday for JLT Community Series play. He may make an appearance the week after against the Essendon Bombers, but expect that appearance to be limited to testing his leg’s recovery.
Veterans such as Ablett do not typically see much action in pre-season hit outs and he was not expected to play against the Suns.
He is at that age where he needs a little bit of luck to go along with skill.
“The medicos think it’s minor, so because of the volume of work he’s done over the summer, we’ll take a conservative approach with him leading into round one,” Geelong football boss Simon Lloyd told The Australian.
With the 300 game milestone behind him, the 2018 fixture could be viewed as Ablett’s au revoir to the game and he obviously hoped for one last shot at finals glory, something that never happened when he played for the Suns.