Gary Ablett Jnr says the advice of his father was a key factor in his decision to make one last push for a third and final premiership medal.
The 35-year-old says he was close to making a call to hang up the boots in the rooms after the Cats’ crushing preliminary final defeat to Richmond.
“I was probably leaning towards retirement at that stage,” Ablett told The Age.
“But I hadn’t really had a chance to think about it. As I said, I didn’t really want to make a decision until I knew how the season was going to end.
“I also had a few people remind me that once you retire, you’ve retired forever. I know Geelong were really keen for me to play on for another year. I had a good chat with (wife) Jordan, and she obviously said she’d support me either way. I made the decision in the end to go on, have one more crack at it.
“Dad was one [of the influences]. He didn’t put any pressure on me whatsoever, he basically just said that we had the team to win it. He said it’s important to think about that. Your reason for going back to Geelong was to win a premiership, you believe you’ve still got the team then why not go on another 12 months.
“I spoke to my family about it. I spoke to Mum, [brother] Nathan. In the end, most of my family were wanting me to go on another 12 months, so it made the decision a little bit easier.”
Eighteen seasons in the league haven’t diminished the Little Master’s hunger for the ultimate success.
“I’ll be going away this off-season and pre-season and just watching tape, just looking at those areas that I can improve," he says.
“I’ve decided to give it one more big crack, and I’ve really been putting the work on in the off-season to make sure I’m in the best nick I can be for the start of pre-season. Hopefully we can come away with that premiership cup, but at least at the end of this year I can say I gave it my best shot.”
Part of staying in the best possible condition all season long may involve more stints on the sidelines in 2020.
“I obviously haven’t spoken to Scotty about what that’s going to look like,” Ablett said.
“But I think that will be the plan. Whether that means sitting out two, three, four games, I’m not 100 per cent sure. But I think for me, it’s just making sure that I’m peaking at the right time. I don’t want to tire myself out and then come finals time the body’s not feeling so great. I’m confident I will be rested a little bit more.”
For Ablett, it’s all part of the plan to capitalise on the promise showed by the current group of Cats.
“I felt we got so close this year. We had a real opportunity against Richmond, up by 21 points at half-time, and I believed that the window still is open.”