GEELONG is determined to dampen expectations around Gary Ablett with coach Chris Scott saying the Cats can have a good AFL season without him dominating.
The two-time Brownlow Medallist is one of the AFL’s all-time greats but he turns 35 in May and Ablett’s role will change this season.
Rather than play as an on-baller/forward, Ablett is set to spend much more time in attack and then pinch-hit through the midfield.
While it has been clear that this season will be different for Ablett, his coach emphasised the point before Friday night’s round-one blockbuster against premiership fancies Collingwood.
“We should acknowledge when we’re assessing how Gary is going during the year – he’s 35,” Scott said.
“He’s been a fantastic player but there aren’t many 35-year-olds playing better AFL footy than they were at 30, much less 27.
“It’s very unlikely he’s going to play every game for us and he’s going to be a little bit more of a role player for us, rather than someone who we build our whole game plan around.
“I would contend that was the situation for the most part of last year as well, even though we didn’t communicate it for various reasons.
“We are still very confident he has a big part to play for us but I don’t think we should be rating Geelong’s chances based on how well Gary can play as an individual.”
Asked for Ablett’s reaction to this new on-field reality, Scott said the star is on board with the club.
Scott stressed that it is essential Ablett knows exactly where he stands.
“If I had one criticism of Gary it would be that he pushes back against me a little bit more,” he said.
“He’s very agreeable in terms of these things and he’s very realistic.
“I get the sense he’d like to play for as long as possible and the only way for him to do that at our club is for him to have real clarity on his role and really good clarity on how he’s going to fit within the longer-term planning of the team.”
© AAP 2019