GOLD Coast coach Guy McKenna says he is convinced Geelong played mind games with the Suns in 2010 as it attempted to scare them off signing Gary Ablett.
While Ablett's on-field exploits were never questioned, McKenna believes the Cats were throwing up some "smoke screens" about the Brownlow medallist's off-field value.
On the eve of Ablett's 250th game against Melbourne on Saturday night, McKenna said his champion midfielder had gone above and beyond what the Suns had expected in his first three seasons.
"I'm now convinced that Geelong was sending out smoke signals saying 'don't take this bloke because he's not going to be able to do this, this and this'," McKenna said.
"When you hear those things initially that 'he's not going to do this, he's aloof, he's not going to give too much, he's competitive and will play good footy but won't show the way off the field', well, that's not what I'm seeing.
"I smell a bit of smoke from down Geelong way. Geelong are a very honourable club and may be right, but from what I've seen… since he's been up here, he would have done more than what's expected."
McKenna compared the scenario to that surrounding West Coast forward Jack Darling who was at the centre of off-field rumours before he was drafted.
Darling eventually slipped to the Eagles at pick 27 and has not put a foot wrong on or off the field since.
McKenna said Ablett's work in the Gold Coast community and willingness to sign autographs hours after matches had shown he was a giving person.
"He's had to do a lot more than we envisaged, he envisaged, his management envisaged and probably the AFL envisaged," McKenna said.
"He's been super on and off the field.
"At the end of these boys' careers they'll stop and think 'it was a privilege to play alongside Gary Ablett'.
"I think the challenge for us now is for Gary to retire and say 'gee it was a privilege to play alongside David Swallow, Dion Prestia and Tom Lynch'."
Michael Whiting is a reporter for AFL Media. You can follow him on Twitter: @AFL_mikewhiting