PAUL ROOS – HERALD SUN

Gary Ablett’s decision to leave Gold Coast for Geelong was correct

 

Paul Roos says Gary Ablett’s decision to leave Geelong for Gold Coast was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Picture: Wayne Ludbey Source: Herald Sun

WHEN Gary Ablett left Geelong at the end of the 2010 season, a chorus of critics lined up to say he would never be the same player at the Suns.

And they were right — Ablett is a better player.

He made the correct decision to join the Suns. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to drive a new franchise and test himself like he had never been tested before.

He had done everything at Geelong and I don’t think anyone in the football world begrudged his decision to take the most lucrative contract in AFL history to move to the Gold Coast.

And even if his contract is around the $2 million mark, as it is rumoured, he has been worth every cent.

Ablett gave the Suns instant credibility, leadership and, most importantly, 100 per cent effort week in and week out. He has proved a great role model and is clearly the No.1 player in the competition.

Ironically, for the next two years there will be rumours about Ablett leaving the Suns.

And as both teams run out tonight, I’m sure many Cats fans will be hoping Ablett will return to see out his career at Geelong when his current contract expires at the end of 2015.

By then he will be 31 years old and, even if he isn’t dominating in the midfield, you would think he could still generate 30-50 goals a season as a small forward.

Make no mistake, he will be a valuable commodity.

I’m sure the romance would not be lost on Ablett himself, but I suspect the decision will be made on more practical issues.

As a player entering his final contract, team success will be at the forefront of his mind.

In two years, he will have more individual trophies than shelf space to put them on, so the question will be: Which team will be better placed going into season 2016 — the Cats or the Suns?

So let’s bring out the crystal ball.

First, the Cats. Many of the current greats will have moved on by 2016, but it is impossible to disregard the power of leadership, development and recruiting.

I will back the Cats to still be in a strong position. In fact, if their young talent continues to develop, the Cats will definitely be a top eight team and clearly in the premiership mix.

On the other hand, the Suns are developing slowly but are heading in the right direction.

This current group will be the stars of 2016, but the club needs to make some key trades and add experience.

If their list is managed correctly and the right decisions are made, I also see them making the finals in 2016.

So, in two years both teams should be in a very strong on-field position and, this being the case, I can’t see a fairytale ending for the Geelong supporters.

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