WHEN he does call time on his career Gary Ablett Jr already has a case at being labelled the greatest AFL player of all time. Brownlow’s, premierships, best & fairest’s, All-Australian nods, 300 games, MVP’s you name it Gaz has done it. After 16 seasons of football though, Ablett finds himself at the crossroads. The rumour mill is churning into overdrive as theories on how he plans to spend his final few days as an AFL footballer grow, with a return to Victoria apparently high up on his wish list. Amid the speculation over the superstars future, what are the potential options for Gary Ablett is 2018?
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Stay In Gold Coast
WITH the sun clearly setting (pun intended) on his career, Gary Ablett could very well choose to play out his days on the Gold Coast. In seven years at the Suns, Gary Ablett has clearly been their best player claiming B&F’s and a Brownlow in 2013, but he has lacked support during his entire tenure. The Suns are yet to taste finals action and this year will employ their third coach heading into the eighth year of the franchise. There are plenty of exciting players in their group though and barring injury the finals in 2018 aren’t out of the question. Of course, if Ablett isn’t in a Suns uniform things could fall pretty quickly.
Join A Third Team
DON’T rule out Ablett joining another Victorian based club for a year or two should a deal with Geelong fail to be struck. Teams would line up to snag the illustrious footballer in Ablett and even if his prime is past him, having him around the club would be an incredible bonus for the younger players development. It’s strange to picture the little master running around in the likes of an Essendon, North Melbourne or Carlton jersey, but stranger things have happened in football in the past. I think that this option is the most unlikely out of all of the choices he could make, but Ablett’s eagerness to return to his home state could outweigh everything else.
Manufacture A Trade To Geelong
THIS seems like the option that will come to fruition over the offseason. Ablett played nine seasons and 192 games at the Cattery, playing a pivotal role in two premierships. The family name Ablett is royalty at Geelong with his father, Gary Ablett Sr playing 242 games and kicking over 1,000 goals at the club. While he isn’t the dominant midfielder he once was Ablett Jr has showcased his skills as a small forward with 386 goals in his career to date and three times has finished a season as the teams leading goalkicker. While Gold Coast is likely to play hard ball in any trade negotiations, imagine Ablett in the forward pocket for an already premiership worthy Geelong team. Scary good.
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ABLETT isn’t getting any younger and after managing just 49 games of a possible 88 in the past four years it may be curtains for his legendary career. As injuries and father time take their toll the question also has to be asked if a soon to be 34 year old Ablett would be a sought after player given his health issues. There is some speculation that the injuries this year were just niggles with the Suns opting to take a cautious approach with their season amounting to nothing. It’s somewhat of a double edged sword because when Ablett was on the park in 2017 he was still instrumental averaging 33 touches (2nd most in the league). However, are 12 games from Ablett better than 22 from another potential replacement?
THE popular choice seems to be that Ablett will find a way back to Geelong to rejoin his old club. Negotiations could get ugly with the Suns eager to chase adequate compensation for their most important player. There is nothing on record yet saying that Ablett wants out of Gold Coast with the star midfielder believed to be mulling over his future not only at the club but in the league altogether. The Suns are still treating Gaz as a required and contracted player whom they want for 2018, but my belief is that Ablett will either don a Cats jersey next year or hang up the well-used boots.
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