Ablett wants to play every game
GARY Ablett will start pre-season early after declaring he was physically ready to play every game next season.
On his first official day as a Geelong player after a seven-year absence following his trade back to the Cats, the two-time Brownlow medallist said he was "super excited" about returning to Kardinia Park.
While many see Ablett playing predominantly forward, the man himself is eyeing off a place in the midfield alongside Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood in Round 1.
"I'm 33 now, the body is still feeling really great, I feel I have got some good years left in the midfield and then I may drift forward after that," Ablett said.
"I have been doing a fair bit of training just to make sure I am ready to go day one of pre-season, there are no issues with the shoulder.
"I obviously missed a fair bit of footy last season but I am on top of that now and spent a bit of time with the physios and the doctor and I will be ready to go on day one of pre-season.
"I want to be out there for all 22 games and hopefully finals as well."
Ablett said he had no regrets about leaving in 2010 to take up a multi-million dollar deal at Gold Coast, where he won four best-and-fairest awards and captained the club.
While he shied away from the limelight during his first stint at Geelong, Ablett admitted he was looking forward to playing on the big stage again.
"Does Friday night footy still exist?" he joked.
"It has been a different experience, there is no doubt about that, I have missed finals football. I am a very competitive person and I play to win so it has been hard not being able to experience that the last seven years.
"There is no doubt this group down here, speaking to some of the boys, they are very driven and making two preliminary finals has been tough for the group.
"We will be doing everything we possibly can to get to that last Saturday in September and have a crack."
Ablett didn't want to elaborate on the tough time his family had gone through over the past month after the passing of his older sister Natasha.
"It has been a tough time, it really has, but at the same time I think it has brought us closer as a family and I think it's just great spending that time with everyone."
He revealed that his father, Gary Sr, was the first to call him after his return home was confirmed in the final hour of trade week.
"He was over the moon," Ablett said. "The fact that he is based down here means we get to spend more time together.
"I think that was the thing he was most excited about. But also the fact that I was coming back to the club that he spent 14 or 15 years with. He's super excited.
"A lot of people don't know my dad that well, but he's always been a super support throughout my whole football career, and not just my football career but through life as well.
"He said to me, 'Mate, I'll support you whatever you do'. He was the first one to call me after I heard the news and he just said, 'Mate, it'll be great having you back down. We'll get to spend that quality time together'."
Ablett admitted he was nervous his return wouldn't happen as the clock ticked towards the trade deadline.
"I won't lie, I was a little nervous. I was calling my manager that day to say, 'What's going on?'. I ended up getting the message to say the deal's done - I was around family so it was a pretty special moment and I haven't been able to wipe the smile off my face since."
Ablett is keeping Cats fans guessing on what number he will wear in 2018, with a decision expected in the next week.
He is currently house hunting with his wife, Jordan, and is yet to decide whether to live in Geelong or Torquay.