Geelong champion Gary Ablett. Picture: Alison Wynd
Geelong champion Gary Ablett. Picture: Alison Wynd

‘I’ll still play every game’: Ablett’s bold 2018 declaration

RETURNING Geelong champion Gary Ablett remains adamant he can still play all 22 home and away games for the Cats this season, according to his manager Liam Pickering.

Ablett last week left Geelong's match simulation early, with scans later revealing a minor hamstring strain.

The setback has placed Ablett, who was sensationally traded from the Gold Coast Suns back to Geelong during last year's trade period, in some doubt for the Cats' Round 1 clash against Melbourne at the MCG.

Pickering said Ablett was "not going to be silly" about pushing himself to play senior footy so early in the year, derclaring "if he think it's a risk, he won't play" before adding he was confident Ablett would still be fit for Round 1.

Ablett boldly declared last November that he wanted to "be out there all 22 games and hopefully finals footy" in 2018. That call came despite playing just 34 of a possible 66 games over the past three seasons, with shoulder and knee issues hampering his fitness.

Asked on Tuesday whether Geelong expects Ablett to play every game for the club in 2018, Pickering said: "Yeah I think so. That's his expectation, absolutely.

Gary Ablett in Colac last week. Picture: Mike Dugdale
Gary Ablett in Colac last week. Picture: Mike Dugdale

"Knowing Geelong, and they're very conservative when it comes to looking after their players, if he's not right, he won't play, it's as simple as that.

"(But) he thinks he will be right and the club thinks he will be right, so I'll take it on trust."

Ablett's minor injury comes after an impressive pre-season back at the Cats where he trained freely with no injury issues. Until last Thursday.

However the superstar midfielder missed six of the Suns' final eight games in 2017 with a hamstring injury.

Despite his 33-year-old body heading about to embark on a 17th AFL campaign, Pickering said he wasn't concerned about his client's latest setback.

"He had some hamstrings last year, but he's never really had a history of them," Pickering said.

"It's a disappointment. You've had such a perfect pre-season and then you have a little setback like that. (But) I don't think it's a big deal, he doesn't seem at all worried about it, he said it's fine.

"It's not ideal, because he hasn't missed a trick so far."

Ablett's homecoming to Kardinia Park will take place in Round 4 against St Kilda.