Gary Ablett's decorated career may be over, with a bitterly disappointed Chris Scott refusing to be drawn on the veteran's future after Geelong were knocked out of the AFL finals.
The two-time Brownlow Medallist's intentions remain unclear after Richmond prevailed by 19 points in a thrilling preliminary final at the MCG.
Ablett gathered 21 disposals and kicked a goal but had relatively little impact in Friday night's 12.13 (85) to 9.12 (66) defeat.
It capped a disappointing September for the 35-year-old, who was held goalless and had little impact in both the qualifying final loss to Collingwood and the semi-final victory over West Coast.
After Friday night’s defeat, speculation was rife that the Cats legend was on the verge of pulling the pin on a decorated career.
Fans on social media were convinced by suggestions that 2019 signify the end of Ablett’s playing days with the Cats.
Surely that’s Ablett’s last year 🧐— Kane McCartin (@kwmccartin) September 20, 2019
May be the last time an Ablett graces an AFL field. A sad thing for footy #AFLTigersCats— Rohanct (@RohanCT) September 20, 2019
Gaz was either carrying something late in the year or just went over the cliff. If he retires then who could blame him. One of the best we’ve ever seen. Unbelievable resume. #ablett— Alfa (@Alfonse74) September 20, 2019
The Ablett name won’t be on a list next year #AFLTigersCats— Victor Yong (@BigV2011WCE) September 20, 2019
Bad luck Geelong they did play well though but Richmond out performed them when needed so good luck Richmond next week u deserve it, thing Garry Ablett will retire and if he does well done to him a great servant to the club and to football in general 🤙— turdface (@Turdface70) September 21, 2019
Sheahan: "If I was Gary Ablett's advisor, I would say: 'you've been the player of the generation, you've done enough, give it away.'"— Garry and Tim (@SENBreakfast) September 19, 2019
100% ablett, Taylor retiring. Selwood prob has 1 year left. The rucks are crap. Kelly is leaving. Hawkins not long left— steve (@robbo69oz) September 20, 2019
Cats are toast - dads army will all be a year older , kelly gone , probably Taylor and Ablett retired. It’s rebuild time— George (@Fudge2409) September 20, 2019
A dejected Scott quickly shut down a question about Ablett's future after the game, saying it was not the time to address the issue.
Ablett started the 2019 campaign in strong touch but a dip in form in the second half of the year has added to the intrigue surrounding his future.
Arguably the greatest player of his generation, it is unlikely the 345-game veteran would continue if he felt unable to play at a high level.
Key defender Harry Taylor is also yet to decide whether he'll play on next season but the 33-year-old was among the Cats' best on Friday night.
Geelong appear likely to lose star midfielder Tim Kelly, who gathered 31 disposals and booted three goals to be comfortably their best player.
While Scott declared that Geelong would fight "tooth and nail" to retain the off-contract Kelly, he is widely expected to again request a trade to West Coast.
Scott said that while the Cats weren't good enough to contend for the ultimate prize, they still had plenty of improvement in them.
"When the dust settles a bit, we'll rue the opportunity lost but look forward to finding a way to improve," he said.
"We've got a lot of players who will play together for a long period of time.
"Tom Stewart's already a dual All-Australian. You add (Mark) Blicavs to that who's virtually in that category in my mind. Jack Henry was a rookie, Tom Atkins, Gryan Miers ... there's a big group of players that I think are going to get better.
"Are they going to be (Patrick) Dangerfield, Ablett, (Joel) Selwood in the future? They're pretty rare, those type of players.
"But I think we've got the capacity to build a pretty even squad. And these experiences will be good for them."