Geelong AFL star Gary Ablett has exited the AFL’s Perth hub and returned to Melbourne to be with his son.
Ablett played in Thursday’s 22-point loss to Collingwood, but landed back in Melbourne on Saturday, according to his manager Liam Pickering.
“I haven’t spoken with him yet, but I know he boarded a plane this morning and will obviously miss the next two games,” Pickering told AFL Nation radio.
Geelong is set to play Fremantle next Monday in Perth, before taking on West Coast the following week.
The 36-year old recently revealed his son Levi had been diagnosed with a rare degenerative disease.
At the time, Geelong coach Chris Scott said if Ablett needed to return to Geelong, he would have the club’s full support.
“We’ve put a lot of thought into it but really at the end of the day it’s an intensely personal decision for Gary,” Scott said earlier this month.
“He’s decided to speak, or at least elaborate, a little bit publicly on it. I think really he should be the only spokesperson in regard to his feelings and to an extent his plans because we consider our role as one of support for whatever he needs.”
Cats “totally support” Ablett’s call
Geelong football manager Simon Lloyd said the Cats were aware it was a “deeply personal situation” for Ablett and his wife.
“He’s made the decision to return home and obviously as a football club and the AFL, we totally support that on compassionate grounds and you’ll find that this may happen across the competition in coming weeks, at different times,” Lloyd said.
Ablett spoke with the playing group on Friday night in Perth during a celebration of his 350th AFL match, and said he wanted to return at some stage.
The Cats’ football manager was asked if the dual Brownlow Medallist would return to the hub, and when.
“I think Gary’s intention is to return to the hub at some stage but again this is something that we’ll work and stay in contact with Gary.
“He spoke to the playing group and he said that he wants to get back and get playing.”
Lloyd said Ablett could possibly miss a month of the competition.
“Obviously he’s a player that everyone wants to see out there playing,” he said.
“His ability to come into the football club chirpy, happy, the care that he shows for his teammates day in, day out, it’s just incredible.
“Let’s all hope that we see him at some stage in the future.”
Ablett will be training alongside former Geelong player Andrew Mackie while in Victoria.
- Gary Ablett has travelled home from Perth to be with his son and wife
- Ablett revealed that his son had a rare degenerative disease at the start of the month
- Geelong has at least two matches to play in Perth against Fremantle and West Coast, which Ablett will miss