Despite some injury issues that limited Gary Ablett to 34 games over the past three seasons with the Gold Coast Suns, Geelong Cats Coach Chris Scott said that Ablett’s playing time will be at midfield, not at forward, as some have speculated.
Shoulder issues have been the primary culprit hindering the 33-year-old Ablett. He played only 15 games for the Suns in 2013, so it is not as if the Cats did not know what they were getting when they brought Ablett back from his west coast hiatus.
Using him at forward would be a preservation move, to be sure, but Scott seems intent on squeezing every last gram of midfielding he can out of Ablett.
“We brought Gary in to be a midfielder,” Scott told the AFL’s website.“He didn’t come to us and say, ‘I think I’m almost cooked here, can you hide me in a forward pocket for a couple of years and I’ll snag you 30 goals a year’.
“He has an aspiration to help the team as much as possible and we all believe that’s in the midfield first,” Scott said.
Other notable players are able to interchange the forward and midfield roles, with the emphasis on midfield first and forward after. Joel Selwood, Mitch Duncan and Nakia Cockatoo all fit that description.
Ablett seems to be pain free and unhindered by his body as he gets set to play the 303rd game of his career when the Cats face the Melbourne Demons on March 25, 2018 at the MCG in Round 1 of the 2018 Toyota AFL Premiership competition.
Scott expects Ablett to be a full contributor, although he did admit that he has some redundancy built into his list should anything happen that would limit Ablett.
“If he did miss any games (through resting), we wouldn’t expect he’d play as little as 14 games or anything like that.”
The Cats were definitely proficient in 2017 and whether the return of Ablett is the final piece they need to win apremiership in the coming year will be one of the most interesting storylines in the AFL.