By Luke Voogt
Cats champions Gary Ablett and Joel Selwood are set to return for Geelong’s must-win last match against Sydney on Sunday.
Ablett received a round of applause from his teammates as he joined them for training on Tuesday for the first time since July after completing a recent 14-day quarantine.
He flew to Queensland with his family on September 1, after departing the Cats previous hub in Perth during July to join son Levi, who is fighting a rare and degenerative disease.
The two-time premiership winner won praise this week for giving his time to children of the AFL’s transition hub after a practice match at the weekend.
On Triple M’s Hot Breakfast, Collingwood president Eddie McGuire described Ablett’s generosity as “one of the best things I’ve ever seen”.
“All the kids, little kids from five years of age, up to 13 or 14, came from everywhere when Gary Ablett went out with Levi, his little baby in his hands,” he said.
“Gary stayed out on the ground for the best part of 90 minutes with every kid playing footy with them. It was unbelievable.”
The 36-year-old looks set to join the Cats for their final match before, most-likely, his last finals campaign, after last October he announced 2020 would be his last season.
“All indications look pretty good at this stage,” Geelong Cats assistant coach Matthew Knights told the media on Tuesday.
“He trained really well. He got through the session unscathed and moved really well.”
Fellow champion midfielder Joel Selwood is also set to return from a knee issue that has sidelined him since round 12, in what looms as a season-defining match.
Last Thursday Geelong coach Chris Scott indicated Selwood could have returned to play Richmond but said the Cats were being “really conservative” with their captain’s finals preparation.
If West Coast Eagles win against North Melbourne tomorrow night, Geelong must win against Sydney to make the top four.
Regardless, a loss to the 15th placed Swans would be disastrous for the Cats’ confidence heading into finals, even if it does not cost them the second chance from making the top four.
But the Cats will be hungry to rebound after their loss to Richmond last Friday and Selwood and Ablett’s return should bolster their midfield.
Cats by 30 points.
Geelong Cats this week mourned former wingman and 1963 premiership player Hugh Routley, who died on Saturday aged 80.