Geelong did not recruit Gary Ablett to just play forward and expect him to play a significant role in the midfield in 2018.
The champion veteran will turn 34 early in the season but Geelong coach Chris Scott has dismissed suggestions the Cats would use him as a permanent forward next season.
“We didn’t bring him in to be a forward,” Scott said.
“We brought him in to be a midfielder, [but] with an open mind as well. We need to see how he plays.”
Scott was confident surgery had reduced the risk of Ablett dislocating his shoulder and his hamstring issues were manageable as the dual Brownlow medallist enters his 17th season.
“He didn’t come to us and say ‘Look, I am almost cooked here. Can you just hide me in the forward pocket for a couple of years and I will snag you 30 goals a year?’ ” Scott said.
“He has an aspiration to help the team as much as possible and we all believe that is in the midfield first.”
Ablett was traded back to the Cats after a seven-year stint with Gold Coast at the end of the season to play alongside star midfielders Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield and chase his third premiership in Geelong colours.
The Cats have a plethora of players Scott describes as midfielders who can play forward including Dangerfield, who kicked 45 goals in 2017, Nakia Cockatoo, Selwood, Mitch Duncan and Ablett.
Scott said Ablett’s competitiveness on the training track was already proving valuable as he pushed the Cats’ emerging midfielders to improve.
He also indicated that competition for spots inside the Cats’ forward line will be hot with Tom Hawkins remaining a focal point inside 50.
Geelong will look to players who can apply forward pressure to play in front of goals and are hopeful Lincoln McCarthy and Cory Gregson will return free of injury alongside recruit Stewart Crameri and forwards such as Brandan Parfitt, Dan Menzel, James Parsons and Cockatoo to fight for spots.
Scott said what clubs assessed when it came to forwards had changed.
“It’s not tall or small. It’s mobile or immobile,” Scott said.
Scott confirmed that Cats’ veteran Harry Taylor will play as a permanent defender in 2018 after kicking 22 goals playing mainly as a forward in 2017.
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