Gary Ablett thanks fans after his first game back in Geelong. Pic: Getty Images
Gary Ablett thanks fans after his first game back in Geelong. Pic: Getty Images

Don’t expect the same old Gazza

SEVEN years disappeared in the blink of an eye when Gary Ablett celebrated an early goal to rapturous applause in a 28-point win over Carlton in his Kardinia Park homecoming.

In his first home game since departing for Gold Coast at the end of 2010, Ablett's trademark poise and skills were on display in front of 31,090 fans on Saturday night.

The 25-possession, one-goal performance was an influential one and a happy return to form for Ablett after last week's downer against Essendon. The two-time Brownlow Medal winner was appreciative of the warm reception of the adoring home fans.

But while he is still capable of sublime pieces of football brilliance, he warned things have changed a bit since he last donned the hoops at the storeyed ground.

"Let's make this clear, I'm 34 years old, I've been running through the midfield a long time," Ablett said.

 

Gary Ablett after the win over the Blues. Pic: Getty Images
Gary Ablett after the win over the Blues. Pic: Getty Images

 

Ablett’s first-term goal got the home fans up. Pic: AAP
Ablett’s first-term goal got the home fans up. Pic: AAP

"So people shouldn't expect I'm going to get 30-plus possessions every week.

"I'm trying to play my role for the team, some weeks that's going to be playing 70 per cent down forward, some weeks it's going to be playing a bit more through the midfield like tonight.

"I said after the game that I was disappointed in my performance last week, but that wasn't necessarily around the amount of possessions I had ... just the influence that I didn't have.

"I felt I played my role tonight and I was happy with my performance."

Ablett admitted the adjustment to part-time midfielder in some games was a difficult and ongoing adjustment for someone who takes great pride in being in the thick of things when the heat is on.

 

Ablett and the Cats took their time shrugging Carlton. Pic: Getty Images
Ablett and the Cats took their time shrugging Carlton. Pic: Getty Images

The uninspiring encounter against the Blues had few highlights, but the crowd's reaction to Ablett's first-term goal was a moment to remember.

Coach Chris Scott was largely unimpressed with his side's performance, but Ablett's game won his seal of approval.

"I thought he played a little too outside last week as a generalisation and he was much more inside and much more penetrating (tonight)," Scott said.

"(He put on) some good pressure and couple of really good tackles. "I thought he was pretty good."

 

 

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