GARY Ablett is back training with Geelong, more than a week before he is officially due to return to the club.
Ablett, 33, joined the Cats' second-to-fourth-year players for a training session at Deakin University's Waurn Ponds' campus on Thursday morning following his much-publicised trade from Gold Coast in the off-season.
Geelong general manager of football Simon Lloyd told AFL.com.au the dual Brownlow medallist would work closely with the club's conditioning and medical teams in laying out a plan for the upcoming pre-season over the coming week.
"It was great to see Gary in at the club. His official start date is the fourth of December, so between then he's going to come in and out at different times as a number of players are currently doing," Lloyd said.
"This morning when I walked through, Gary was sitting with Jordan Cunico, Brandan Parfitt and a number of other second-to-fourth-year players and having a really good chat.
"Really he's getting to know the players and getting to know the club. It's great to see him engaged with the group and back in the hoops."
Just five players – Mitch Duncan, Tom Hawkins, Daniel Menzel, Joel Selwood and Harry Taylor – remain on the list who were there when Ablett left for the Suns at the end of 2010.
Lloyd said the Cats would not hold Ablett back too much in regard to his preparation for the season ahead.
"You'll find, come the fourth of December he'll be in and out of drills and building towards round one," Lloyd said.
Geelong is still none the wiser on the number Ablett will wear in 2018 with the champion midfielder yet to decide on his preferred jumper.
Cameron Guthrie is the current holder of the No.29 jumper – the guernsey Ablett wore in two premierships and 192 games for the Cats between 2002 and 2010.
Nakia Cockatoo wears Ablett's famous Dad's No.5 and the No.9 he donned at Gold Coast is held by ruckman Zac Smith.
There is a suggestion Ablett could wear the No.11, left vacant following Darcy Lang's trade to Carlton, given he had that number while playing with the Geelong Falcons in the TAC Cup before he was drafted to the Cats in 2009.
Gary Ablett meets some new teammates and joins in for a run. Pictures: geelongcats.com.au