By Luke Voogt
Geelong Cats have gotten behind champion midfielder Gary Ablett after he revealed son Levi had recently been diagnosed with a rare and degenerative disease.
“To reach this milestone was extra special for my family and I for a number of reasons,” Gary Ablett posted online after his 350th game.
“In the recent months, my wife and I have privately fought and continue to fight some pretty tough battles.
“Some of you might already know that Jordan is caring for her mum as she battles with cancer.
“But what many of you don’t know is that our son has been recently diagnosed with a rare and degenerative disease.”
The Cats had a “loose plan” to support Ablett over the next several weeks, which could potentially allow him to return home, coach Chris Scott said.
“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 told a press conference on Tuesday.
“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.”
Ablett’s ability to “compartmentalise” was part of what made him a champion, and his teammates would need to follow suit to focus on “the short term” amid an uncertain 2020, Scott said.
“I think the main thing for the players and the coaches in the short term is to compartmentalise and focus on what we know, and leave the people in the back office to look after logistics.”
Geelong would need to be careful sending any players home, given the club did not know its next destination after a three-week hub in Perth beginning round 7, Scott said.
“The last thing we want to do is send guys home and be away longer than expected, and risk not being able to get them back into the state in which we’re playing.”
The Cats focused on “rest and rejuvenation” this week, training at Henson Park in Sydney on Tuesday after flying out of Melbourne on Sunday night.
Geelong is scheduled to play Brisbane at the SCG on Thursday night.