GARY Ablett has revealed he has considered quitting AFL football as many as six times during his career.
The dual Brownlow medallist had previously claimed he would consider retirement if Gold Coast didn't agree to trade him back to Geelong for family reasons.
That wish was granted in October, so it came as something of a bombshell on Tuesday morning to learn that the 33-year-old had weighed up his football mortality on at least several other occasions.
After winning two premierships with his beloved Geelong, where his father Gary senior is also a club legend, Ablett junior accepted a massive contract to become the Suns' inaugural captain in 2011, and he spent seven seasons with the fledgling franchise.
Ablett's personal predicament was further highlighted following the tragic death of his sister Natasha in October. He was traded back to the Cats just days later.
"I reckon I considered (retirement) five or six times through my career," Ablett told RSN.
"It is a tough game and I'm going into my 17th pre-season now.
"Look, whether I seriously considered it or not, there definitely has been times where you question why you're still doing it, and obviously I had a few serious injuries over the last couple of years with two shoulder reconstructions.
"So it is something that's crossed my mind, but at the end of the day (the trade) all went through and it worked out well, so it's not something I'm really thinking about …
"I felt it was time to come back and be around family. I'd been away for seven years and that was one part of the reason (for returning), no doubt.
"The other one as well is just being back at the football club where it all started for me. It's a great football club, they do things very, very well here."
Ablett, who returned to training early to familiarise himself with the Cats' younger players, reinforced his desperation to finish his glittering career with a third premiership.
He wants to play every game but, given his recent injury history, plans to train smarter to keep his body fresh.
The 302-gamer said his time with the Suns helped him develop as a leader and a person, and he plans to help with the leadership responsibilities with the Cats.
"The first conversations I had with 'Sel' (captain Joel Selwood) were about, 'How can we make this group a super-competitive group?' So we're going to work through that over pre-season and I'm going to be running some little drills out there on the training track, making sure that the boys are super-competitive," Ablett said.
"I truly believe that if you can get guys to be competitive in everything they do, that transitions into the weekend.
"That's going to be one of the challenges this year, making sure that we've got that (competitiveness) and we're able to help those younger guys grow in that area.
"It's something that really excites me."