IT WAS Gary Ablett's first game for eight months, and despite admitting to a bit of fatigue, the Gold Coast champion was all smiles following his performance against the Western Bulldogs.
Gold Coast lost by 21 points after blowing a big first-half lead, but one of the big positives for the Suns was seeing Ablett get through four quarters.
He hadn't played since undergoing surgery last July on his left shoulder, but was quickly back to somewhere near his best.
Ablett kicked a goal inside two minutes, added another after beautifully roving a stoppage and snapping with his right foot, and added 22 disposals in a polished display.
Speaking to reporters following the match, Ablett said the shoulder had got through well.
"You can do all the contact work during the week but there's nothing like the contact that comes in a game," he said.
"It was good, I was able to lay a few tackles, the shoulder felt great and I'll be better for the run."
Playing his first pre-season game since 2014, Ablett split his time between the forward line and midfield.
After doing most of the running during pre-season, he expects the time onball to increase by round one.
"I'm just glad to get that in my legs," he said.
"I really enjoyed that today, it was good so I could just get used to the pace of the game again.
"I felt a little bit fatigued at times in the game and I had to rotate forward, but I guess that's just getting used to the pace of the game again."
After two shoulder surgeries and a total of 20 games over the past two seasons, Ablett is still confident of recapturing his best form, despite saying he's not fazed whether people think he's still the game's best player or not.
"Obviously I've had the shoulder issues over the last 24 months and that's been really frustrating for me, but the body's feeling really good," he said.
"I'm 32 years old now and I guess at times you probably question your body at that age, but I got out and had a really good pre-season and I'm just happy with the way things are going."
So good to see the little master (G.Ablett) back out there for GC— Scott Pendlebury (@SP_10) March 9, 2017