Free agency is one of the most contentious concepts in the AFL in recent times, with such inequities as Tom Lynch walking to the powerful Richmond club from an expansion franchise seemingly powerless to prevent it. Or were they?
Gary Ablett has ended speculation about his AFL career, agreeing to a new deal, while fellow veteran Harry Taylor will also play next season for Geelong.
The quest for a third AFL premiership will have Gary Ablett in a Geelong jumper for a 19th and final AFL season.
Ablett and fellow Cats veteran Harry Taylor have signed one-year deals with the club.
News of their contracts comes a day after All-Australian midfielder Tim Kelly confirmed he wants a trade to West Coast.
“I believe I can still meet, and to an extent exceed my own expectations, and it is for that reason why I have agreed to terms with Geelong and penned a new deal to extend my career for a 19th season,” Ablett said in a statement.
“I have no doubt in my mind that as a team we’re capable of winning the premiership next year, which is why I’ve decided to go around again.”
Ablett also spoke of the hurt of losing the preliminary final to premiers Richmond.
Since their 2011 premiership, the Cats have lost three preliminary finals.
“I’ve got no doubt the pain of losing that preliminary final will continue to burn over the summer. And so it should,” Ablett said.
“But as players, coaches, members and fans, that hurt will fuel the club’s 2020 aspirations.”
Ablett was a member of Geelong’s 2007 and ’09 premiership sides before moving to expansion club Gold Coast, where
he was the inaugural captain.
He then returned to Geelong for the past two seasons and excelled this year, making the 40-man All-Australian squad.
Ablett went forward this season and played all 24 games, taking him to a career total of 345.
A similar season next year could mean the two-time Brownlow Medallist breaks into the AFL’s all-time top 10 for most games played.
Western Bulldogs and Fitzroy great Bernie Quinlan is 10th with 366 games.
Meanwhile, Taylor’s one-year contract extension will take him into a 13th season at Geelong.
The two-time premiership player and two-time All-Australian key defender has played 261 games for the Cats.
“Harry and Gary were both excellent players for us this year, and more importantly we see both as being able to contribute to us winning games in 2020,” said Cats football boss Simon Lloyd.
“Their on-field efforts were there for all to see, and they also took significant time to invest in our large base of emerging talent, speeding the development of this exciting group of players.”