Ablett’s secret injury battle
PREMIERSHIP Cat Tom Lonergan believes Gary Ablett is secretly battling a lingering shoulder problem which has limited the champion playmaker's inside midfield work.
Ablett has again come under fire for his performance in the Cats' commanding win over Sydney on Thursday night, but Lonergan said the dual Brownlow Medalist's shoulder was still giving him grief.
Ablett, 34, had surgery on his left shoulder in late 2016, and it continued to hamper the veteran superstar early last season at Gold Coast.
Lonergan said Ablett was keeping the injury battle low-key.
"He is still trying to find his position in the team, and he is coming off some horrific injuries," Lonergan said.
"I know the shoulder one is a lot worse that probably anyone knows about.
"I'm not sure whether that's in his head when he is playing that inside midfield role, in traffic.
"But I just always thought we got Gaz for a reason and that's for the back end of the season - for September - because class comes to the top at that point in the year."
Lonergan was adamant Geelong could seriously challenge Richmond for this year's flag and said the club's plan was always designed around helping Ablett fire in September.
Ablett has not played finals since 2010 when he left the Cattery for a seven-year stint at Gold Coast.
Lonergan, who spoke about his courageous return to football after losing a kidney in an on-field collision in 2006, said Ablett would be a weapon in the do-or-die matches, especially at the MCG.
The Cats have a 10-8 record at the home of football since the start of 2016.
"I think the prelim, when everyone is a bit nervous, I think the cream rises," Lonergan said on the Don't Argue podcast.
"We haven't played enough footy at the G (in recent years), but we play eight games (this year), and there is still two more to go," he said.
"We play Richmond twice, so we get two good looks at them, and we have got some players coming back in and still got depth in the reserves.
"I think the Cats will be right amongst it at the end of the year."