Silly Season: Why Geelong shouldn’t trade for Gary Ablett

Since forever, Gary Ablett junior has pretty much dominated the AFL landscape, picking up where his old man left off in giving opposition analysts migraines and creating a Geelong juggernaut that can’t help itself but be successful.


He’s won a pair of Premierships with the Moggies and a Brownlow as well, kicked ridiculous snags from three rows deep in Kardinia Park and hasn’t even put a hair out of place since the late noughties.


But he knocked off to the Goldie for a boatload of cash and a few years of establishing the fledgling Suns, won all their awards and another of Chas’ Medals and was supposed to quietly retire, leaving a cluster of superstars to build the footy club, give it culture.


But now he wants to come home!


Gazza’s still a deadest gun, even took out the B&F on the Coast with 14 games on his belt, but the Suns are still terrible and he’s still a Cat. With his pedigree, let’s be honest, who can blame him – he’s been the Prince of Corio since birth. Pushing mid-30’s, Gaz still has the sublime skill that made him such a weapon, could still be considered a top ten player of the competition but has dodgy hammies and a bad shoulder.


And as he’s still dominating up north, the Suns have asked, fairly bluntly, for proper compensation. Which is fair enough. The club’s struggling, they lost two midfield guns last year, might lose a pair of talented flankers in Saad and Hall along with the Little Master this year and Tom Lynch isn’t a safe bet either, the co-captain of the club no less.


While the won’t nab Mitch Duncan from the Cattery, belying pure Geelong brain-melt, it’s safe to assume that Gary won’t be flying out unless the Suns are royally compensated. And even if a deal isn’t reached, the Suns won’t have to worry about putting up with the awkwardness of having an uncommitted player at the club – he plans to retire if he doesn’t find his way to the Cats.


Now here’s the issue: Geelong will likely have to give up one or two talented youngsters, plus a decent pick. The Suns hold all the cards in this situation and I’d be surprised if they backed down given their negotiations during the Prestia and O’Meara deals of yesteryear – neither Richmond nor Hawthorn wanted to give up a first-round pick, both ended up doing so, one way or another.


So it’s Wylie Buzza, Jake Kolodjashnij, Nakia Cockatoo and Brandon Parfitt who’ll the Suns will be targeting. The most likely to go will be Buzza and Kolodjashnij, as the former is from Queensland and the latter’s brother, Kade, plays for the Suns already. The pick will likely be a second-rounder, although the Cats’ second is a fair way back. The Suns will likely target this as they give themselves a plethora of assets in the draft, which enable them to go for out-of-favour players at other clubs or Queenslanders who they reckon can be convinced to return home. Players like Anthony Miles, talented but on the outer, will be the ones who the Suns will chase.


My problem with this trade for Ablett is what the Moggies will have to give up. All emotion aside, they’re essentially going after a player with recent injury history, as close as a year or as far as four from retiring who’s just good enough to command a high price. This will not be a Sam Mitchell, Jordan Lewis type of deal. They will lose kids who they’ve certainly earmarked as long-term replacements for retiring or ageing greats, while gaining another elite midfielder who won’t be there for long enough to even out their losses.


That, and they’ve been so focused on Gary’s possible return that others which would’ve made huge positive change to their game have looked elsewhere. Both Jake Stringer and Devon Smith looked likely to head to Geelong, but have both announced their preference as the Essendon footy club in the last few days. Sure, the salary cap would’ve been an issue but committing a suspected $600K a year to Gary Ablett on this deal doesn’t help. Money freed up by the likely departures of Steve Motlop, Dan Menzel and Darcy Lang.


It’s a midfield which was already star-struck that Gary will walk into. Does this mean Paddy Dangerfield plays permanently full-forward? Maybe Mitch Duncan and even Cam Guthrie should explore their options if the Ablett deal arises, as they’ll be the odd men out with the brothers Selwood, Dangerfield and Ablett in there.


The issue for the Cats was, for the most part, not their midfield in 2017 and 2016. They have the best captain in the league and the best player in the league as well as the perennially underrated Duncan and Guthrie. What they need is able replacements for the departing Motlop and Menzel, players who will give them more output than the two half-forwards. They’ve missed the boat on Stringer and Smith but maybe Sam Lloyd from Richmond, Jack Watts from Melbourne or Jarman Impey from Port Adelaide can ably replace the two goalkickers.


Geelong have played this poorly. No player is bigger than a club, even if your name is Gary Ablett. He can retire and come back to Geelong as a coach if he wants; there is no way that Geelong should bundle a package for him. Look elsewhere, for younger options, in areas where there is a burning vacancy.


Cats fans (and Stevie J fans): try this classic piece from Peter Flynn


  1. Spot on Paddy. The Cats don’t need Ablett and shouldn’t be chasing him. If they get him it confirms, in my view, that they are not overly interested in doing the work to win a Premiership. They are more interested in being a good and profitable corporate entity.

  2. Stephen Alomes says

    Goals Yes.
    Injuries No.
    For and against getting GA2

  3. You make good sense, Paddy. Very instructive to see Stevie J’s last game against Richmond. Yards too slow, the skills gone. When they go, they can go quickly. And he’s GA’s age!! Watch that game Wellsy.
    Wylie B has a crack, throws himself at the ball, tackles. A very good long term prospect. Parfitt and Cocky good young players.
    The Menzel thing is sad, but has gone on long enough. Motlop, predictably, plays his best footy when I’ve bitten the bullet and decided to offload him. But… he goes. We’ll lay a dozen more tackles a game without those two.
    All that said… Ablett, playing forward, kicks four in the first quarter of the first game 2018… I’m out of my seat screaming with delight.

  4. Totally on the money.
    Garry Ablett has nothing to offer Geelong and should recognise the price the Suns want is unreasonable for Geelong. He has proven himself selfish in the past and RICHMOND proved that there is no room for selfish individuals.

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