GEELONG veteran Gary Ablett has decided to play on next season in a renewed bid to finish his career with a third premiership.
Ablett, who will turn 36 in May, ended speculation about his future on Thursday afternoon when he announced he would extend his brilliant career into a 19th season.
The dual Brownlow medallist revealed the "hurt" of missing a Grand Final would "take some time to get over" but he said it would also provide the incentive for another tilt at a flag.
AFL TRADE HUB All the latest news
Ablett was this year reborn as a small forward and averaged 20 possessions and tallied 34 goals in a Cats team that suffered a 19-point loss to Richmond in the preliminary final. A nominee for the 40-man All Australian squad, he missed just one game – after receiving the first suspension of his career.
The 345-gamer said he had come to his decision after much consideration and after discussions with family, friends and advisors.
"The expectations that others place on me have never been higher than the expectations and standards that I set for myself. I believe I can still meet and, to an extent, exceed my own expectations, and it is for that reason why I have agreed to terms with Geelong and penned a new deal to extend my career for a 19th season," Ablett wrote on his Exclusive Insight website.
INDICATIVE DRAFT ORDER Your club's latest picks
"I have no doubt in my mind that as a team we're capable of winning the premiership next year, which is why I've decided to go around again.
"I'll be putting in a lot of hard work during the off-season to give myself the best opportunity to play my role well and perform at the level that I know that I can.
"But this is it. Next season … will be my last in the game.
"Thank you to the Geelong Football Club for giving me this opportunity to play on and for your patience.
"This game has given me so much, and I’ve never taken the opportunity or the platform for granted."
Fellow Cats veteran Harry Taylor will also play on into 2020. The key defender, 33, has featured in 261 games at AFL level, including 24 this year.
Harry Taylor will add to his 261 games at the Cats since his debut in 2008. Picture: AFL Photos
Geelong football manager Simon Lloyd was pleased the club would have the value of the experienced duo for another season.
"Harry and Gary were both excellent players for us this year and, more importantly, we see both as being able to contribute to us winning games in 2020," Lloyd said.
WHO'S HANGING UP THE BOOTS? Your club's retirements and delistings
"Their on-field efforts were there for all to see, and they also took significant time to invest in our large base of emerging talent, speeding the development of this exciting group of players."
Ablett's announcement comes just hours before Geelong's best and fairest count at Crown Palladium, and will buoy the Cats following the news that star midfielder Tim Kelly has again requested a trade to West Coast.