AS he draws closer to his 35th birthday, Gary Ablett’s stunning form is making it hard for Geelong to justify resting the AFL great.
The Cats still intend to give Ablett a spell at some point, but his renaissance up forward has effectively put those plans on hold.
Over the past fortnight, Ablett – who made his name as a midfielder but is following the well-trodden path of finishing his career in the forward line – has booted five goals and averaged 26 disposals and eight inside-50s per game.
With Ablett set to turn 35 on May 14, Geelong coach Chris Scott says the dual Brownlow Medallist’s performances have complicated plans to give him a rest.
“It will happen at some point,” Scott told reporters on Thursday.
“There’s a whole lot of data points that go into that decision … the information we have now is obviously more relevant and more important.
“The message we’d like to convey – and we don’t feel we need to protect it necessarily – is that Gary and a group of players will be managed throughout the year. We don’t know exactly when that’s going to be. We’ve got no idea, but it’s coming.
“We’ve got a strong history of trying to look after our players and if that weakens our team temporarily, we think that’s a better mistake to make then running a guy into the ground and having him not at his best later in the year.”
Another player exceeding expectations for the ladder-leading Cats is Esava Ratugolea.
The young ruck-forward has played every game this season and made a strong impact while coming back from a broken leg.
“It was a serious injury,” Scott said ahead of the Cats’ clash with Essendon on Sunday.
“If you layer on top of that the fact that he’s played (14) games in his career … then we think he’s been much more than just pretty good for us.
“We don’t have any intention of just squeezing the lemon with Esava, we’re going to be a little bit careful with him. But his form last week was really promising.”
© AAP 2019