In Round 2 of this year's AFL season, I managed to sit down to watch the second half of the Giants v Suns game. I don’t particularly like either team, but I always try where possible to watch Gary Ablett play. He hadn’t played much in the previous two seasons, so I was pretty keen to see how he was going. I was stunned to find a man who looked disinterested in the contest.
The commentators, of course, didn’t miss it, and proceeded to spend large periods of the game focussing on his body language and output. I wasn’t comfortable with it, as Little Gaz is the best, most competitive, brilliant and consistent midfielder I have seen, but I knew also, that what they were saying was right. There is something awful seeing a player near the end of his time at the top. I have written in the past about Ablett, and not writing him off to soon (read here), so I expected a bounce back the following week.
As such, I made sure to watch the Suns v Hawks in Round 3. Sure enough, Gazza left his 16 possession game against the Giants in the past and accumulated 36 possessions and kicked two goals. There was still something missing though. Suns coach Rodney Eade pointed out after the game that Ablett was not playing at his best, despite the obvious statistical improvement from the week before. I was inclined to agree. Ablett’s body language was greatly improved, in that he seemed, once again, to want to be out there and competing, but he didn’t seem to have the zip in his legs and the power in his trunk.