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'Immersed, engaged' Gaz has years left

Cats footy manager Simon Lloyd says Gary Ablett is committed to the cause - AFL,Gary Ablett,Geelong Cats
Cats footy manager Simon Lloyd says Gary Ablett is committed to the cause

GARY Ablett jnr, like most of his Geelong teammates, had a poor outing last weekend.

His indifferent performance led many observers to question the Cats' decision to welcome the veteran back for his second stint, and some to query the 34-year-old champion's immediate future.

But in a story in this round's edition of the AFL Record marking Ablett's first match back at Geelong's home ground since he left for the Gold Coast at the end of the 2010 season, Ablett's manager Liam Pickering suggests Ablett can play for another three or four years should his body hold up.

Ablett has struggled with hamstring injuries since returning home, and there'll be plenty watching how he performs against the Blues on Saturday night.

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In the superstar veteran's final season with the Suns last year, there were suggestions he wasn't entirely invested in their campaign, that he'd been too selective about when he played as he managed shoulder, calf and ongoing hamstring issues, and that he'd checked out early ahead of his imminent return to Geelong.

This has not been the Cats' experience of Ablett since they reunited last October.

In fact, according to Geelong football manager Simon Lloyd, the 'Little Master' could not be more committed to the cause.

Lloyd, who hadn't previously met the dual Brownlow medallist, hails Ablett as unique in ways that might surprise some.

"The perceptions people tended to have prior to Gary returning to the club was around disengagement and whether he's bought into programs (at Gold Coast)," Lloyd said.

"Well, I've actually never come across someone who's so immersed and engaged in what he's doing."

Ablett enjoyed his time with the Suns and held no regrets, but Pickering conceded his final season there was, due to various issues, "a bit of a grind".

The previous year, 2016, Ablett requested a trade back to Geelong for family reasons. But with two years left on his contract, the Suns refused to entertain the idea.

Ablett then endured his fourth successive injury-hampered season, predominantly afflicted by previously foreign soft-tissue problems.

Despite playing just 14 games, he still won the Suns' best and fairest.

"Last season there was a lot of commentary around him supposedly not wanting to play, which was just rubbish," Pickering said.

"It would've been a real shame if he was forced into retirement. Footy needs to see him."


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