Two-time Brownlow medallist Gary Ablett says he will turn to his famous father for some tricks of the trade as he begins his gradual transition from the league's best midfielder to a goalkicking small forward.
A second Brownlow leaves Ablett's list of honours unparalleled among the game's modern midfielders, but the Gold Coast captain believes there is plenty for him to learn when it comes to the forward craft mastered so spectacularly by his dad, Gary Ablett snr, during a career that produced 1030 goals. Despite Monday night's triumph, Ablett jnr continued to insist on Tuesday that his abilities should not even be compared to that of his father, whom he rates as the greatest player ever.
But that will not stop him from using Ablett snr as the best possible resource, available only to him, as the 29-year-old prepares for a change in role entering the next phase of his career.
Gary Ablett shows off Charlie at a media conference on Tuesday. Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones
"He's always been the most supportive dad in the world, so I've got no doubt when I move down forward I will get some advice from him because he probably was the best at it," Ablett told Fairfax Media. "He's always given me tips on how I can improve my game or what I could have done better, but I think there's no doubt watching me go forward, he will take a special interest in that."
Although they will not play the exact same position - Ablett snr was taller and weighed about 10 kilograms more when he retired than his son does now - it seems logical "little Gaz" could absorb much from his father, particularly his remarkable ability to out-body opponents in marking contests.
It is an area of his game Ablett began focusing on last pre-season and will step up this one, should the Suns need him to spend more time forward of centre - where he is likely to be in more one-on-one contests with the play coming towards him, rather than him creating the action around congested stoppages.
"You've got access to so much video footage of other players and things like that now, so there's no doubt I will sit down over the pre-season and I'll look through a lot of footage of small forwards, tall forwards and guys that have been great over a long time and see what they did well," said Ablett, also The Age Player of the Year for 2013.
Even as a midfielder, Ablett has shown a propensity for the big sticks, ranking second among all on-ballers for average goals this season, and he started his career with Geelong as a small forward booting between 30 and 35 goals across four straight seasons before moving into the middle.
Although he anticipates spending some time forward next season, and probably a bit more than he did this one, the seven-time All-Australian said he expected to play largely the same role in 2014, revealing he "will be going in to train to play midfield this pre-season".
"I am a very competitive person so I want to play in the midfield for as long as I can … so I think it will be a gradual phase-out," he said. "But it all depends on how the body goes over the next couple of years. I've been very lucky, I haven't had too many serious injuries."
Ablett said the breakdown of his minutes shared forward and centre also depends on the rate of development of some of the club's emerging midfielders.