By Luke Voogt
Gary Ablett has returned home to join his family as son Levi battles a rare and degenerative disease.
Geelong Cats football general manager Simon Lloyd confirmed the departure of the champion midfielder in a press conference on Saturday following last Thursday’s loss to Collingwood.
“Gary approached Chris Scott and I early in the week and obviously we’re well aware that this is a deeply personal situation for Gary and [wife] Jordan,” he said.
Lloyd said the club had expected Ablett’s departure and totally supported him leaving on compassionate grounds.
“The focus at the moment – first and foremost – is care for Gary and support for him and Jordan and their family during this challenging period.”
He praised Ablett for his ability to “compartmentalise” his personal struggles while focussing on football.
“His ability to come into the football club chirpy, happy, the care that he shows for his teammates – day in and day out – it’s just incredible to sit back and watch,” he said.
Lloyd also praised Jordan for how she had “carried herself”.
On Sunday Jordan posted a photo of Ablett hugging his son at Tullamarine Airport with the words: “We missed you.”
The move home means Ablett will miss at least the Cats’ next two games in Perth before potentially rejoining the club in Queensland.
During a club meeting in Perth last week, celebrating the champion’s 350th game the week before, Ablett told fellow players of his intent to return to club, Lloyd said.
“His objective is to help Geelong win a premiership this season. He’s a player that everyone wants to see out there.”
Lloyd was unable to give any detail yet of when Ablett would return to the club or what quarantine or other measures he would have to undertake.
“We’ll just have to take it day-by-day, really,” he said.
“We’ll stay in contact with Gary and he’ll continue to train when he returns to Geelong.”
Lloyd said Ablett would train with former teammate and premiership-winning defender Andrew Mackie.