OPINION: Gaz worth his wait in Gold Coast
THEY say you should never write off a champion ... especially one the calibre of Gary Ablett.
The Gold Coast Suns certainly aren't, with the only writing they had been wanting to see when it came to their superstar was him signing off on a new contract to extend his time at the club by at least another three years.
The doomsdayers were questioning his future after he and club medicos decided last week to rest his damaged left shoulder.
Many wondered if it would still be able to withstand the rigours of AFL footy, let alone help carry the weight of an entire club.
Whether we see the 270-game champion back in the type of form to ever seriously challenge for a third Brownlow Medal remains to be seen.
But, depending on how that shoulder pulls up after however long he rests it, even a Gary Ablett firing at 75% power is worth his weight in gold (well, about $1m a year) on the field, and also off it as one of the two biggest names in the game, alongside Buddy Franklin.
Let's not forget the new franchise was prepared to fork out a hefty sum for some ex-rugby league, now rugby union player for promotional purposes.
AsAblett watched on while his current club took on his old one in Geelong yesterday, the announcement of the new deal was reportedly "imminent".
Ablett is still only 30, and if he's anything like his old man, Gary Snr - still the best Ablett I've seen play - there could be plenty of good years left in him.
Ablett Snr was 31 when he became a permanent forward with Geelong, just a couple of years after prematurely retiring, and duly kicked 124 goals in the 1993 season ... and then 129 in 1994 and 122 in 1995.
It's been long talked about that Ablett Jnr would become more of a stay-at-home forward late in his career. Maybe the time has come. It is late, but it's certainly not over. The footy public may just need to lower expectations of his output.
While Ablett can still play a major role for the Suns 'going forward', can the same be said of another two-time Brownlow medallist, Adam Goodes?
Sydney coach John Longmire showed he is immune to sentiment by not playing Ryan O'Keefe last year and so Goodes, 35, now faces an uphill battle to get back to being a fixture in the Swans' line-up.
He has won plaudits for dropping himself back to the reserves on the weekend after not wanting to don the subs' vest in the seniors, and in turn kicked three goals at Tramway Oval.
But the writing may be on the wall that this particular 353-game champion has indeed played one too many seasons.
Veterans who have recently been written off:
DUSTIN FLETCHER (ESS)
Had 17 disposals, 7 marks, 5 rebounds in his 395th game.
BRENT HARVEY (NM)
Had 23 disposals, kicked one goal in his 387th game.
MATTHEW PAVLICH (FREM)
Kicked 4 and 2 goals in games number 315 and 316.
KANE CORNES (PA)
Had 25 touches in his 295th game. Rested this week.
CHRIS JUDD (CARL)
Had 20 disposals in 274th game.
PAUL CHAPMAN (ESS)
Kicked 2 goals in his 274th game.
LUKE HODGE (HAWTH)
Had 44 disposals in 253rd game.
DANE SWAN (COLL)
Had 39 touches in his 239th game.