Gary Ablett at Cats training. Picture: Alison Wynd
Gary Ablett at Cats training. Picture: Alison Wynd

Ablett under pressure to play modern forward role

GARY Ablett's days in the midfield appear numbered as the Cats formulate a plan to move him into a more regular forward role.

Having finished outside the top-10 in Geelong's best-and-fairest this year, the 34-year-old's role looms as an intriguing storyline of the 2019 season.

Ablett was criticised at times this year for a lack of ­defensive pressure and the Cats have made it clear he will be expected to bring the heat in his new forward role.

"He's been training well as a midfielder and as a forward," assistant coach Matthew Scarlett said.

"So he won't play huge parts in the middle. He will need to adapt and be able to play a forward role.

"The modern forwards need to be able to run and chase and tackle and pressure - he will have to do that."

Out of contract and 35 in May, there is a strong possibility that next year could be the swan song for Ablett, one the league's greatest players.

Geelong's senior players have taken ownership of the club's mission to make amends for a disappointing 2018 ­season.

Cats chief executive Brian Cook, who has been heart­ened by the positive changes after making about 30 "tweaks" to the club's football department, said players were "irritated" and "pretty p---ed off" with how this year fizzled out.

Scarlett said players including Patrick Dangerfield and Ablett had acknowledged they, too, needed to improve.

"You can't rely on all those guys and those guys need to improve as well," Scarlett said.

"Those guys have put their hand up and say they need to improve - those guys didn't play great footy in the finals ­either.

"It's not just the young guys who need to improve, it's those guys.

"We can't be reliant on one or two players, it has to be everyone who runs out.

"We just need an even contribution from the whole team. Not rely on Patty (Dangerfield) or Gary to win a game off their own boot.

"It's not the way footy is."