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There's plenty of Gaz still in the tank

Date

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.

20 comments

  • 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?

    Commenter
    Kayzersoze
    Location
    Melbs
    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.

      Commenter
      jmoney
      Location
      Perth
      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

      Commenter
      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!

    Commenter
    Ben
    Location
    Canberra
    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

      Commenter
      loch
      Location
      brusnwick
      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.

        Commenter
        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?

      Commenter
      Pat Miller
      Location
      Melbourne
      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

        Commenter
        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.

      Commenter
      Cam
      Location
      Melbs
      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.

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

        More comments

        Comments are now closed

        AFL 2015

        Round 1
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        Sat, 04 AprTimes shown AEDT
        MEL 115vs GCF 89 Stats
        SYD 72vs ESS 60 Stats
        BRI 74vs COL 86 Stats
        WBU 97vs WCE 87 Stats
        Sun, 05 AprTimes shown AEST
        STK 78vs GWS 87 Stats
        ADE 140vs NTH 63 Stats
        FRE 75vs PTA 68 Stats
        Mon, 06 AprTimes shown AEST
        HAW 123vs GEE 61 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 2
        Fri, 10 AprTimes shown AEST
        WCE 131vs CAR 62 Stats
        Sat, 11 AprTimes shown AEST
        RIC 66vs WBU 85 Report Stats
        GWS 101vs MEL 56 Stats
        COL 63vs ADE 90 Report Stats
        GCF 76vs STK 104 Stats
        PTA 44vs SYD 92 Stats
        Sun, 12 AprTimes shown AEST
        GEE 60vs FRE 104 Stats
        ESS 78vs HAW 76 Stats
        NTH 133vs BRI 51 Stats
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        Round 3
        Fri, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
        COL 140vs STK 66 Stats
        Sat, 18 AprTimes shown AEST
        CAR 84vs ESS 105 Stats
        ADE 80vs MEL 55 Stats
        SYD 111vs GWS 90 Report Stats
        NTH 105vs PTA 113 Stats
        BRI 58vs RIC 137 Stats
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        HAW 127vs WBU 57 Stats
        GEE 105vs GCF 96 Stats
        WCE 81vs FRE 111 Stats
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        Round 4
        Fri, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
        RIC 51vs MEL 83 Stats
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        STK 81vs CAR 121 Report Report Stats
        ESS 49vs COL 69 Report Stats
        GWS 119vs GCF 53 Stats
        PTA 99vs HAW 91 Stats
        FRE 74vs SYD 60 Stats
        Sun, 26 AprTimes shown AEST
        BRI 65vs WCE 118 Stats
        GEE 67vs NTH 83 Stats
        WBU 125vs ADE 68 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 5
        Fri, 01 MayTimes shown AEST
        CAR 45vs COL 120 Stats
        Sat, 02 MayTimes shown AEST
        RIC 76vs GEE 85 Stats
        SYD 73vs WBU 77 Stats
        GCF 118vs BRI 54 Stats
        NTH 70vs HAW 130 Stats
        WCE 120vs GWS 33 Stats
        Sun, 03 MayTimes shown AEST
        MEL 50vs FRE 118 Stats
        STK 80vs ESS 82 Stats
        ADE 91vs PTA 115 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 6
        Fri, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
        COL 59vs GEE 100 Stats
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        NTH 109vs RIC 74 Stats
        WBU 87vs STK 94 Stats
        GWS 108vs HAW 98 Stats
        GCF 78vs ADE 119 Stats
        MEL 50vs SYD 88 Stats
        FRE 80vs ESS 52 Stats
        Sun, 10 MayTimes shown AEST
        CAR 75vs BRI 84 Report Stats
        PTA 68vs WCE 78 Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 7
        Fri, 15 MayTimes shown AEST
        ESS 82vs NTH 93 Stats
        Sat, 16 MayTimes shown AEST
        ADE 119vs STK 73 Stats
        HAW 155vs MEL 50 Stats
        CAR 57vs GWS 135 Stats
        SYD 120vs GEE 77 Stats
        WCE 135vs GCF 43 Stats
        Sun, 17 MayTimes shown AEST
        WBU 88vs FRE 101 Stats
        RIC 105vs COL 100 Report Stats
        BRI 102vs PTA 65 Report Stats
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        Round 8
        Fri, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
        GEE 140vs CAR 63 Report Stats
        Sat, 23 MayTimes shown AEST
        STK 78vs WCE 131 Report Stats
        GWS 108vs ADE 84 Report Stats
        GCF 63vs COL 132 Report Stats
        HAW 69vs SYD 73 Report Stats
        FRE 115vs NTH 42 Report Stats
        Sun, 24 MayTimes shown AEST
        ESS 136vs BRI 78 Report Stats
        MEL 103vs WBU 64 Report Stats
        PTA 43vs RIC 76 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 9
        Fri, 29 MayTimes shown AEST
        SYD 122vs CAR 62 Report Stats
        Sat, 30 MayTimes shown AEST
        HAW 93vs GCF 40 Report Stats
        MEL 54vs PTA 115 Report Stats
        WBU 113vs GWS 68 Report Stats
        RIC 72vs ESS 59 Report Stats
        ADE 57vs FRE 68 Report Stats
        Sun, 31 MayTimes shown AEST
        BRI 86vs STK 108 Report Stats
        COL 112vs NTH 95 Report Stats
        WCE 120vs GEE 64 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 10
        Fri, 05 JunTimes shown AEST
        FRE 70vs RIC 97 Report Stats
        Sat, 06 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAR 90vs ADE 99 Report Stats
        GCF 41vs SYD 93 Report Stats
        ESS 53vs GEE 122 Report Stats
        PTA 100vs WBU 62 Report Stats
        Sun, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
        GWS 97vs BRI 67 Report Stats
        NTH 85vs WCE 75 Report Stats
        STK 69vs HAW 132 Report Stats
        Mon, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
        MEL 85vs COL 110 Report Stats
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        Round 11
        Fri, 12 JunTimes shown AEST
        PTA 69vs GEE 92 Report Stats
        Sat, 13 JunTimes shown AEST
        GCF 46vs FRE 53 Report Stats
        WCE 96vs ESS 46 Report Stats
        NTH 75vs SYD 91 Report Report Stats
        Sun, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
        COL 119vs GWS 77 Report Stats
        STK 85vs MEL 83 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 12
        Thu, 18 JunTimes shown AEST
        ADE 85vs HAW 114 Report Stats
        Fri, 19 JunTimes shown AEST
        RIC 70vs WCE 90 Report Stats
        Sat, 20 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAR 110vs PTA 106 Report Stats
        GWS 61vs NTH 117 Report Stats
        WBU 146vs BRI 74 Report Stats
        Sun, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
        GEE 89vs MEL 113 Report Stats
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        Round 13
        Thu, 25 JunTimes shown AEST
        FRE 80vs COL 73 Report Stats
        Fri, 26 JunTimes shown AEST
        SYD 77vs RIC 95 Report Stats
        Sat, 27 JunTimes shown AEST
        HAW 114vs ESS 76 Report Stats
        BRI 69vs ADE 82 Report Stats
        STK 56vs WBU 62 Report Stats
        Sun, 28 JunTimes shown AEST
        CAR 103vs GCF 69 Report Stats
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        Round 14
        Thu, 02 JulTimes shown AEST
        SYD 94vs PTA 84 Report Stats
        Fri, 03 JulTimes shown AEST
        COL 91vs HAW 101 Report Stats
        Sat, 04 JulTimes shown AEST
        RIC 78vs GWS 69 Report Stats
        GCF 125vs NTH 70 Report Stats
        WBU 64vs CAR 53 Report Stats
        MEL 60vs WCE 114 Report Stats
        Sun, 05 JulTimes shown AEST
        ESS 52vs STK 162 Stats
        ADE vs GEE 15:20Adelaide Oval
        FRE 84vs BRI 48 Report Stats
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        Round 15
        Thu, 09 JulTimes shown AEST
        PTA 66vs COL 63 Report Stats
        Fri, 10 JulTimes shown AEST
        RIC 71vs CAR 41 Report Stats
        Sat, 11 JulTimes shown AEST
        ESS 69vs MEL 60 Report Stats
        WBU 95vs GCF 73 Report Stats
        NTH 120vs GEE 79 Report Stats
        WCE 147vs ADE 91 Report Stats
        Sun, 12 JulTimes shown AEST
        GWS 84vs STK 49 Report Stats
        HAW 115vs FRE 43 Report Stats
        BRI 49vs SYD 70 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 16
        Fri, 17 JulTimes shown AEST
        NTH 93vs ESS 68 Report Stats
        Sat, 18 JulTimes shown AEST
        GEE 72vs WBU 64 Report Stats
        GCF 79vs GWS 94 Report Stats
        COL 56vs WCE 87 Report Stats
        SYD 57vs HAW 146 Report Stats
        FRE 95vs CAR 53 Report Stats
        Sun, 19 JulTimes shown AEST
        MEL 60vs BRI 36 Report Stats
        PTA 113vs ADE 116 Report Stats
        STK 73vs RIC 89 Report Stats
        View All Fixtures
        Round 17
        Fri, 24 JulTimes shown AEST
        CAR 35vs HAW 173 Report Stats
        Sat, 25 JulTimes shown AEST
        GWS 42vs GEE 69 Stats
        ADE 125vs GCF 80 Stats
        RIC 78vs FRE 82 Stats
        ESS 116vs PTA 129 Stats
        BRI 38vs NTH 110 Report Stats
        Sun, 26 JulTimes shown AEST
        WBU 104vs COL 86 Report Stats
        MEL 46vs STK 83 Report Stats
        WCE 103vs SYD 51 Report Stats
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        Round 18
        Fri, 31 JulTimes shown AEST
        HAW 53vs RIC 71 Report Stats
        Sat, 01 AugTimes shown AEST
        GEE 113vs BRI 57 Stats
        COL 54vs MEL 91 Report Stats
        SYD 117vs ADE 65 Report Stats
        CAR 54vs NTH 118 Report Stats
        GCF 83vs WCE 83 Report Stats
        Sun, 02 AugTimes shown AEST
        PTA 112vs STK 49 Report Stats
        ESS 40vs WBU 127 Report Stats
        FRE 84vs GWS 63 Report Stats
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        Round 19
        Fri, 07 AugTimes shown AEST
        ADE ($2.15)vs RIC ($1.70) 19:50Adelaide Oval
        Sat, 08 AugTimes shown AEST
        COL ($1.22)vs CAR ($4.35) 13:45MCG
        WBU ($1.73)vs PTA ($2.10) 14:10ES
        BRI ($2.45)vs GCF ($1.55) 16:35G
        GEE ($2.15)vs SYD ($1.70) 19:20SS
        WCE ($2.20)vs HAW ($1.67) 19:40Domain Stadium
        Sun, 09 AugTimes shown AEST
        MEL ($3.80)vs NTH ($1.27) 13:10MCG
        GWS ($1.33)vs ESS ($3.35) 15:20Spotless Stadium
        STK ($3.70)vs FRE ($1.28) 16:40ES
        View All Fixtures
        Round 20
        Fri, 14 AugTimes shown AEST
        SYD ($1.25)vs COL ($3.70) 19:50SCG
        Sat, 15 AugTimes shown AEST
        ESS ($2.50)vs ADE ($1.50) 13:45ES
        NTH ($1.28)vs STK ($3.50) 14:10BA
        PTA ($1.25)vs GWS ($3.70) 16:35Adelaide Oval
        GEE ($4.30)vs HAW ($1.20) 19:20MCG
        BRI ($1.70)vs CAR ($2.10) 19:20G
        Sun, 16 AugTimes shown AEST
        RIC ($1.15)vs GCF ($5.00) 13:10MCG
        WBU ($1.33)vs MEL ($3.15) 15:20ES
        FRE ($1.87)vs WCE ($1.87) 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 21
        Fri, 21 AugTimes shown AEST
        HAW ($1.18)vs PTA ($4.60) 19:50ES
        Sat, 22 AugTimes shown AEST
        COL ($2.35)vs RIC ($1.55) 13:45MCG
        GWS ($3.50)vs SYD ($1.28) 14:10Spotless Stadium
        GCF ($1.40)vs ESS ($2.95) 16:35MS
        STK ($2.80)vs GEE ($1.40) 19:20ES
        ADE ($1.08)vs BRI ($6.75) 19:40Adelaide Oval
        Sun, 23 AugTimes shown AEST
        NTH ($2.00)vs FRE ($1.75) 13:10ES
        CAR ($2.25)vs MEL ($1.60) 15:20MCG
        WCE ($1.18)vs WBU ($4.60) 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 22
        Fri, 28 AugTimes shown AEST
        GEE ($1.50)vs COL ($2.50) 19:50MCG
        Sat, 29 AugTimes shown AEST
        GWS ($1.22)vs CAR ($3.70) 13:45Spotless Stadium
        HAW ($1.01)vs BRI ($13.00) 14:10AS
        NTH ($1.70)vs WBU ($2.10) 16:35ES
        ESS ($5.00)vs RIC ($1.15) 19:20MCG
        GCF ($2.50)vs PTA ($1.50) 19:20MS
        Sun, 30 AugTimes shown AEST
        ADE ($2.95)vs WCE ($1.38) 13:10Adelaide Oval
        STK ($3.80)vs SYD ($1.25) 15:20ES
        FRE ($1.07)vs MEL ($7.50) 16:40Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        Round 23
        Fri, 04 SepTimes shown AEST
        COL ($1.50)vs ESS ($2.50) 00:00MCG
        RIC ($1.70)vs NTH ($2.10) 00:00ES
        HAW ($1.01)vs CAR ($13.00) 00:00MCG
        GEE ($1.50)vs ADE ($2.50) 00:00SS
        SYD ($1.05)vs GCF ($8.00) 00:00SCG
        MEL ($1.87)vs GWS ($1.87) 00:00ES
        BRI ($3.05)vs WBU ($1.35) 00:00G
        PTA ($2.15)vs FRE ($1.65) 00:30Adelaide Oval
        WCE ($1.06)vs STK ($8.00) 02:00Domain Stadium
        View All Fixtures
        AFL 2015
        Overall standings
        Team P W L D % Pts
        Fremantle 17 15 2 0 127.06 60
        West Coast Eagles 17 13 3 1 154.43 54
        Hawthorn 17 12 5 0 164.23 48
        Sydney Swans 17 12 5 0 115.86 48
        Western Bulldogs 17 11 6 0 113.12 44
        Richmond 17 11 6 0 112.43 44
        North Melbourne 17 10 7 0 107.19 40
        Geelong Cats 16 9 7 0 102.42 38
        View all
         

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