Gary Ablett has shared a “beautiful” moment with son Levi in the AFL’s transition hub on the Gold Coast.
The 36-year-old Geelong champion hasn’t played since round seven, having headed home to Victoria to be with Levi when the Cats continued their interstate campaign.
Ablett and partner Jordan revealed in July that Levi has a rare and degenerative disease.
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The family are now together in the Gold Coast quarantine hub.
Ablett has been part of the “transition hub club” with rival players like Dan Hannebery and Shane Edwards as they wait to rejoin their teams.
And there were beautiful scenes recently when Ablett took Levi out onto the field for a “practice match” with other players and children in the hub.
“One of the best things I’ve ever seen was a couple of days ago. 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 and ran around and played in a practice match,” Eddie McGuire said on Triple M on Monday.
“Then Gary stayed out on the ground for the best part of 90 minutes with every kid playing footy with them. It was unbelievable.
“Parents of kids and wives and girlfriends of all the opponents in the AFL all ran and got photos of the great Gary Ablett being out there with their kids.
“It was just one of the most touching, beautiful moments.
“Not only that, all the other players out there just wanted to play with Gary.”
Ablett will link up with his Geelong teammates on Tuesday, giving him five days to tune-up before the clash with Sydney in round 18.
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The Cats believe Ablett has the required conditioning and mental focus to play a key role in their AFL premiership push on his return.
Cats staffer Andrew Mackie has been working closely with Ablett during his time on the sidelines and says the veteran is in the right shape to put his hand up for a comeback before the finals.
“We don't play until next Sunday ... there's probably a couple of sessions where he gets to get involved,” Mackie said on Friday.
“I'd back Gary in, no matter what. He's had a great couple of weeks and, by extension, a good six weeks.
“He's obviously had plenty going on at home but for him to come in and commit to what he's been doing over the last six weeks has been great.”
Mackie says only Ablett can answer questions about his headspace but believes his former premiership teammate is mentally prepared to feature in the Cats' 2020 flag tilt.
“He's a good friend and I've enjoyed hanging out with him so much over this last little journey,” Mackie said.
“He's focused on what he's got to do with his footy.
“Him and Jordan and little Levi are a great family and we're all enjoying seeing the love and care that they're providing to him.”