K rock Football

Gaz flag no motivation for Cats

Geelong veteran Gary Ablett in action during. (AFL Photos Image/Will Russell)

AS Gary Ablett prepares for what could be his last AFL game, his Geelong teammates are acutely aware of the ramifications a loss to Brisbane would have for the retiring champion.

But the prospect of winning a premiership specifically for the Little Master in his farewell season – his 19th at the top level – won’t be a driving factor for the Cats in Saturday night’s preliminary final.

“Gary would appreciate that we don’t talk internally about that, just like we don’t talk about Pat (Dangerfield) hasn’t been there (to a grand final),” Geelong forward Tom Hawkins said.

“We would love for the opportunity to send (Ablett) out the way that he should be.

“But we’ve got to give ourselves the opportunity and we’ve got a really tough game to get through before we even dream of that.”

Dual Brownlow Medal winner Ablett missed nine matches this season for family reasons and has endured a difficult year off the field.

His young son Levi was diagnosed with a rare and degenerative disease earlier this year, and wife Jordan’s mother died in August.

On the field, the 36-year-old has not had the impact he did in his prime.

But he has still shown flashes of class in his three matches back in the fold, as when he set up two first-quarter goals against Collingwood last week, and has been an influential figure behind the scenes.

“He’s his normal bubbly self, he’s quite remarkable,” Hawkins said.

“Being away from home and having the unique circumstance of being Gary Ablett, it’s incredible to see how vibrant he is around the place and around the players.

“He’s been fantastic.”

Celebrated superstar Dangerfield has already played in four preliminary finals at two clubs and won a host of individual accolades, including the Brownlow Medal in 2016.

But he is yet to reach a season-decider, where the 30-year-old could achieve the ultimate success.

“There’s so many special stories (including) Pat and the legacy that he’s going to leave,” Hawkins said.

“It’s still got a lot to play out at Geelong, and obviously (there was his time at) Adelaide.

“Then there’s Gary and a lot of young players that haven’t had the opportunity to play in a grand final.

“We’ll let people on the outside (talk about) that and we’ll just control what we can internally, but it would make for great viewing.”

(C) AAP 2020