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Cats champ eyes JLT start after missing secret trial game

Gary reveals pre-season plan, Dee's knee surgery, more Footy Feed with Matt Thompson and Mitch Cleary

SUPERSTAR Gary Ablett will begin his new forward role in the JLT Community Series after failing to feature in Geelong's not-so-secret scratch match against North Melbourne on Wednesday.

Switched from Deakin University, there was no access at GMHBA Stadium as Chris and Brad Scott's sides met, the move prompting TV networks to send a helicopter into the sky for a glimpse.

Ablett, 34, completed an individual program, turning his focus to a pre-season hitout, expected to fall against Essendon on March 7 in Geelong – 15 days before round one.

"I didn't play at all today, the plan is to get right for next week," Ablett said.

"I did a little bit of cross-training and I'll do some running over the next couple of days.

"The body's feeling good, I've had a good pre-season and I think most of the boys are hanging out for games now."


Teammates Patrick DangerfieldTom HawkinsTim Kelly and Mark Blicavs – all of whom will play in the AFLX on Friday night – took part in the session against the Roos.

Roo Shaun Higgins, who will line-up for Team Rampage, sat out the contest.

Blicavs partnered Harry Taylor in defence as the Cats trialled forward Wylie Buzza in a new defensive role – assigned Roos forward Ben Brown at times.

After nine games as a forward in the past two seasons, Buzza faces a season-defining year as he prepares to fall out of contract.

Cats pair Tom Atkins and recruit Gary Rohan both assumed roles in the front half.

STRONGEST MIDFIELDS Every club's engine room ranked

Midfielder Charlie Constable clocked up big minutes in the midfield alongside Dangerfield, while the Cats rolled out all four ruckmen against Roos big man Todd Goldstein

Incumbent No.1 Rhys Stanley and Zac Smith had first rights to the contest and alternated in attack before mature-age prospect Darcy Fort paired with Ryan Abbott in the second half. 

Esava Ratugolea also played in attack against an undersized Roos defence that faces the daunting prospect of Fremantle's Jesse Hogan, Rory Lobb and Matt Taberner in round one.

Jasper Pittard was forced to play taller at stages alongside Ben McKayScott ThompsonEd Vickers-WillisMarley Williams and Sam Wright

Thompson's suspension for round one, the unavailability of Majak Daw and a shoulder injury to Robbie Tarrant has been compounded with a setback to emerging defender Sam Durdin

Durdin trained on the neighbouring oval, home to local side St Mary's, with his hand in a cast after a knife mishap at home which is expected to rule him out for up to 10 weeks. 

He was joined by captain Jack Ziebell, still working back from an ongoing calf complaint, as well as the club's indigenous players returning from this week's All Stars Summit in Adelaide.

Cats defender Zach Tuohy, in a race against time for round one following knee surgery, completed 200m bursts in a 40-minute running session. 

Speedster Nakia Cockatoo ran for half an hour after sustaining adductor soreness last week.

The Roos will head down to the Surf Coast on Wednesday night to Torquay as part of the club's pre-season program.