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There's plenty of Gaz still in the tank


Joel Selwood

The Gold Coast Sun's Gary Ablett in action.

The Gold Coast Sun's Gary Ablett in action. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo

HERE'S something that might surprise people about Gary Ablett: in some of the competitive areas that are part of everyday life at a football club, he was no star.

When Gary was at Geelong he was never the strongest runner - he always finished mid-range when it came to time trials. And he was never the strongest in the gym - again only mid-range in the strength testing.

As a fan and constant student of the game (even if I don't play any of the fantasy games that take over workplaces or children's homework time), I love to watch the best teams. I look forward to watching their up-and-coming stars and to keeping a close eye on the premier players. What intrigues me most is how the top players continually find a way to keep up their elite performance standards and look for ways to constantly better themselves.

It's only early in the year but one player has stood out to me above everyone else - my good mate Gaz. His first three games this season have been absolutely incredible: 42, 40 and 45 possessions respectively and six goals.

It's made me think he is actually getting better as a player, when I thought it was just not possible.

He turns 28 this year and he has done just about everything on the football field that's possible. When is it going to stop? And why is he so good?

I put it down to two trademark Gary Ablett values. It is no fluke. Yes, he has the genes that we all dream of, but he was always super-professional in what he did. If it took extra recovery or stretching sessions to get his battered body ready for games from week to week, that's what he'd do.

This year his body looks trimmer and lighter, and this wouldn't be from training only: he would be watching everything he eats so he could better himself.

Gaz's competitiveness is what I believe makes him the player he is. He doesn't like losing anything, be it a wrestle at training or a pre-match game of soccer where you have to keep the ball up for as long as you can.

He just has special talents and incredible competitiveness. Even if it was juggling, he pushed himself to be one of the best, was constantly trying to improve himself.

Gaz and Steve Johnson had a strong relationship. They used to bet each other on everything - snapping the ball through a door in the gym, keeping the ball in the air, doing the impossible kick or how many balls they could last in cricket in the gym.

There was always a little dollar on it, or you buy lunch or coffee.

Gaz also had an incredible ability to switch on and off as he needed. He was always organising extra tickets for family and friends: we get four each and even an hour before the game Gaz was going around the change rooms asking blokes if they had any spare tickets and running them to friends outside.

He would rock up to games without even a bag, just his skins and his wallet and car keys in his hand. Everyone else would have a bag but he'd have everything else - jumper, shorts, socks, mouthguard - already in his locker. People would send Gaz memorabilia and all sorts of things, so there was always stuff everywhere in his locker, spilling out onto the floor.

He was so relaxed, joking around right up until the last minute. Then he'd go into the meeting room and flick a switch.

When he announced he was leaving, Gaz sent a text around to everyone. It was the day before the best and fairest, so we were able to talk to him there. We weren't sure what he'd wear but he turned up in his Geelong suit and tie.

Looking back through the year, you were never sure what he would do. You were hopeful he would stay but you'd hear the talk of what the numbers could be, unbelievable figures that our football club could never pay. We were always hopeful, because he worked so hard right up until the last minute on the last day.

People have asked me: how do you think Gary would be feeling about Geelong winning the premiership in 2011? I answer it the same way every time: he would have been barracking hard for us that day but absolutely it would have killed him not being part of it. I can guarantee you it will drive him to get one at the Gold Coast.


  • Question for Joel: Forgive me if this seems an intrusive thing to ask, but given the number of head clashes you suffer as a result of your playing style, do you have regular brain function tests? I mean, it's a proven thing that an excessive amount of knocks to the head will reduce your brain function and lead to problems later in life. You no doubt know exactly how long a career you have (and may it be a long one indeed, Captain), but it will most definitely end, and I often wonder if the later years in your life - of which there will be more than twice as many as your playing career - are taken into account?

    People often say: "Nobody goes to their grave wishing they could've stayed in the office longer". Well, in your case, the office is an oval in front of thousands of fans at the prime of your life, so I'm sure you'll have no regrets. But if a debilitating brain condition was present (and we all hope that is never the case, but lets be hypothetical), would you have second thoughts about your past?

    Date and time
    April 18, 2012, 10:11AM
    • Excellent question.

      I too have the same concerns about AFL players, especially Joels teammate, Jimmy Bartel.

      Would really love to hear from Joel about this issue, this is/should be a valid concern for any current player.

      Date and time
      April 18, 2012, 7:26PM
    • A fair question to ask, I have great belief in the medical staff that work at my footy club. Never will they ever put a player in a position that they don't want to be in or on the other hand the medical team have more stay then the coach when it comes to if you should be on the ground or not. Leading on from that they give the players the best insight to injuries that occur and future troubles that you may have. I hope you understand that I don't want to get to personal on the matter

      Joel Selwood
      Date and time
      May 10, 2012, 8:13PM
  • How often has a Brownlow medalist come from one of the bottom 3 sides? Because so far he is looking good!

    Date and time
    April 18, 2012, 10:44AM
    • know that sydney were fairly low down when paul kelly won his, not sure if was bottom 3 or not

      Date and time
      April 18, 2012, 11:17AM
      • Swans finished 12th of 16 in 1995, under Ronald Dale, as they began a quick ascent that would see them play in the following year's grand final. They beat Collingwood at home in the final round to ensure the Magpies missed the finals.

        Will Brodie
        Date and time
        April 18, 2012, 11:22AM
    • Q - Hi Joel, how much would you squat (back bar) and deadlift (regular), for say 5 reps? How common are squats and deadlifts in AFL clubs?

      Pat Miller
      Date and time
      April 18, 2012, 1:29PM
      • Pat, depending on what stage of the year depends on what exercise we do. The squat and dead-lift  are a huge part of our preseason and we will maintain these exercises throughout the season at stage. Josh Hunt loves them

        Joel Selwood
        Date and time
        May 10, 2012, 8:19PM
    • Who is the greatest midfielder in the AFL in 2012? Judd.

      Who is the best midfielder in the AFL in 2012? Murphy.

      Date and time
      April 18, 2012, 2:16PM
      • Q - Hi Joel,

        I've always wanted to ask you - where do you buy your t-shirts? I've always really admired both yours and Gary's sense of style. Not enough of it in the AFL if you ask me.

        Tom Betts - Melbourne
        Date and time
        April 18, 2012, 4:20PM

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        AFL 2015

        Round 1
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        MEL 115 vs GCF 89 Stats
        SYD 72 vs ESS 60 Stats
        BRI 74 vs COL 86 Stats
        WBU 97 vs WCE 87 Stats
        Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
        STK 78 vs GWS 87 Stats
        ADE 140 vs NTH 63 Stats
        FRE 75 vs PTA 68 Stats
        Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
        HAW 123 vs GEE 61 Stats
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        Round 2
        Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
        WCE 131 vs CAR 62 Stats
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        RIC 66 vs WBU 85 Report Stats
        GWS 101 vs MEL 56 Stats
        COL 63 vs ADE 90 Report Stats
        GCF 76 vs STK 104 Stats
        PTA 44 vs SYD 92 Stats
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        ESS 78 vs HAW 76 Stats
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        Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
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        BRI 58 vs RIC 137 Stats
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        HAW 127 vs WBU 57 Stats
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        SYD vs CAR 19:50SCG
        Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
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        Round 10
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        FRE vs RIC 20:10Domain Stadium
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        CAR vs ADE 13:40MCG
        GCF vs SYD 16:35MS
        ESS vs GEE 19:20ES
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        Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
        GWS vs BRI 13:10Spotless Stadium
        NTH vs WCE 15:20BA
        STK vs HAW 16:40ES
        Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
        MEL vs COL 15:20MCG
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        GCF vs FRE 13:40MS
        WCE vs ESS 16:35Domain Stadium
        NTH vs SYD 19:20ES
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        CAR vs PTA 13:40MCG
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        WBU vs BRI 19:20ES
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        FRE vs COL 20:10Domain Stadium
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        SYD vs RIC 19:50SCG
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        HAW vs ESS 13:40MCG
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        Round 14
        Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
        SYD vs PTA 19:20SCG
        Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
        COL vs HAW 19:50MCG
        Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
        RIC vs GWS 13:40MCG
        GCF vs NTH 16:35MS
        WBU vs CAR 19:20ES
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        Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs STK 13:10ES
        ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
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        Round 15
        Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
        PTA vs COL 19:50Adelaide Oval
        Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
        RIC vs CAR 19:50MCG
        Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs MEL 13:40MCG
        WBU vs GCF 16:35CAZ
        NTH vs GEE 19:20ES
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        Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
        GWS vs STK 13:10Spotless Stadium
        HAW vs FRE 15:20AS
        BRI vs SYD 16:40G
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        Round 16
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        NTH vs ESS 19:50ES
        Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
        GEE vs WBU 13:45SS
        GCF vs GWS 14:10MS
        COL vs WCE 16:35ES
        SYD vs HAW 19:20ANZ
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        PTA vs ADE 15:20Adelaide Oval
        STK vs RIC 16:40ES
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        CAR vs HAW 19:50ES
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        GWS vs GEE 13:45SO
        ADE vs GCF 14:10Adelaide Oval
        RIC vs FRE 16:35MCG
        ESS vs PTA 19:20ES
        BRI vs NTH 19:20G
        Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
        WBU vs COL 13:10ES
        MEL vs STK 15:20MCG
        WCE vs SYD 16:40Domain Stadium
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        Round 18
        Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
        HAW vs RIC 19:50MCG
        Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
        GEE vs BRI 13:45SS
        COL vs MEL 14:10MCG
        SYD vs ADE 16:35SCG
        CAR vs NTH 19:20ES
        GCF vs WCE 19:20MS
        Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
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        ESS vs WBU 15:20ES
        FRE vs GWS 16:40Domain Stadium
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        Round 19
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        ADE vs RIC 19:50Adelaide Oval
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        COL vs CAR 13:45MCG
        WBU vs PTA 14:10ES
        BRI vs GCF 16:35G
        GEE vs SYD 19:20SS
        WCE vs HAW 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
        MEL vs NTH 13:10MCG
        GWS vs ESS 15:20Spotless Stadium
        STK vs FRE 16:40ES
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        Round 20
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        SYD vs COL 19:50SCG
        Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
        ESS vs ADE 13:45ES
        NTH vs STK 14:10BA
        PTA vs GWS 16:35Adelaide Oval
        GEE vs HAW 19:20MCG
        BRI vs CAR 19:20G
        Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
        RIC vs GCF 13:10MCG
        WBU vs MEL 15:20ES
        FRE vs WCE 16:40Domain Stadium
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        Round 21
        Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
        HAW vs PTA 19:50ES
        Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
        COL vs RIC 13:45MCG
        GWS vs SYD 14:10Spotless Stadium
        GCF vs ESS 16:35MS
        STK vs GEE 19:20ES
        ADE vs BRI 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
        NTH vs FRE 13:10ES
        CAR vs MEL 15:20MCG
        WCE vs WBU 16:40Domain Stadium
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        Round 22
        Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
        GEE vs COL 19:50MCG
        Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
        GWS vs CAR 13:45Spotless Stadium
        HAW vs BRI 14:10AS
        NTH vs WBU 16:35ES
        ESS vs RIC 19:20MCG
        GCF vs PTA 19:20MS
        Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
        ADE vs WCE 13:10Adelaide Oval
        STK vs SYD 15:20ES
        FRE vs MEL 16:40Domain Stadium
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        Round 23
        Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
        COL vs ESS 00:00MCG
        RIC vs NTH 00:00ES
        HAW vs CAR 00:00MCG
        GEE vs ADE 00:00SS
        SYD vs GCF 00:00SCG
        MEL vs GWS 00:00ES
        BRI vs WBU 00:00G
        PTA vs FRE 00:30Adelaide Oval
        WCE vs STK 02:00Domain Stadium
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        AFL 2015
        Overall standings
        Team P W L D % Pts
        Fremantle 8 8 0 0 155.29 32
        West Coast Eagles 8 6 2 0 158.17 24
        Sydney Swans 8 6 2 0 127.36 24
        GWS Giants 8 6 2 0 118.87 24
        Collingwood 8 5 3 0 129.90 20
        Adelaide Crows 8 5 3 0 116.32 20
        Hawthorn 8 4 4 0 145.81 16
        Richmond 8 4 4 0 107.64 16
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