Geelong will allow superstar midfielder Gary Ablett Jr. to leave the Cats’ interstate hub whenever he wants, should he choose to, after he made public his son’s diagnosis with a degenerative disease.
Ablett, who celebrated his 350th AFL game milestone with a win against Gold Coast at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday, revealed his family's private struggles via an Instagram post on Sunday afternoon.
'CRASHED DELIBERATELY': Sad new details in star's accident
‘DEVASTATED’: Aussie Rules rocked by death of legend at 59
“In the recent months, my wife and I have privately fought and continue to fight some pretty tough battles,” Ablett wrote.
“Some of you might already know that Jordan is caring for her mum as she battles with cancer.
“But what many of you don't know is that our son has been recently diagnosed with a rare and degenerative disease.
“After a great amount of thought and consideration, we decided that it's time to share this with you.”
Ablett was part of the group that flew into Sydney at the beginning of the week, as the AFL looks to continue the season despite the league heartland of Melbourne once again plunged into stage three coronavirus restrictions.
Hard border closures have been enacted around Victoria, but the Cats have thrown their support behind the club champion should he decide he needs more time to be with his wife Jordan and 17-month-old son Levi.
“We’ve put a lot of thought into it but really at the end of the day it’s an intensely personal decision for Gary,” head coach Chris Scott said.
“He’s decided to speak, or at least elaborate, a little bit publicly on it.
“I think really he should be the only spokesperson in regard to his feelings and to an extent his plans because we consider our role as one of support for whatever he needs.
“Right at the moment we’re pushing on with a little bit of a loose plan around what his next month to six weeks might look like but keeping our options open to change our mind as things happen.”
Gary Ablett Jr. best under pressure, coach says
Scott went on to say Ablett’s resilience, both on and off the field, was what had made him such a titan of the game.
“It’s clearly a difficult time for him and has been for some time,” Scott said.
“One of the things that’s made him a champion is his ability over the years in my opinion to compartmentalise these things.
“If you put yourself in his shoes just for a second it’s just an incredibly difficult situation he’s working through.
“Again, our role is to support - I won’t speak for him, I’ll let him do that when he feels the time’s right.”