Every time Gary Ablett returns to Geelong with his Gold Coast teammates it’s a big deal.
That comes with the territory for Ablett as an alltime Cats great. And as the son and namesake of another club legend.
But as midfielder Mitch Duncan notes, time moves on quickly in the AFL.
Duncan, 24, is one of only 10 players still on the Geelong list who had the privilege of playing alongside Ablett in the blue and white hoops before the two-time Brownlow medallist moved north to become the Suns’ inaugural skipper in 2011.
“It does seem like a while ago, but Gaz was a champion of our footy club and he still is,” Duncan told AAP ahead of Saturday night’s clash at Simonds Stadium.
“Our fans will really respect that, but as soon as the siren goes, it’s game on.
“As soon as we cross that white line he’s an opposition player and we have to treat him like any player on the other team.”
While Duncan played half a dozen senior games alongside Ablett in his debut season, the likes of Joel Selwood, Jimmy Bartel, Corey Enright and Andrew Mackie were 2007 and 2009 premiership teammates.
“Players like him are not forgotten, but you have to move on pretty quickly because you have to start developing the other people who come into the footy club to help win the next premiership,” said Duncan.
The Cats have won four of their first five matches to start 2016 and will go in as short-priced favourites against a Suns outfit who have dropped their past two games against Brisbane and North Melbourne and are battling a mounting injury toll.
Michael Rischitelli (shoulder) and Adam Saad (hip) have joined the likes of David Swallow, Jaeger O’Meara and Rory Thompson on the sidelines.
Dion Prestia is also in doubt with a shoulder problem, but coach Rodney Eade confirmed on Thursday that Ablett was a certain starter despite suffering a burst blood vessel in his calf last weekend against the Kangaroos.
Duncan says the Cats are still searching for consistency, having dropped a game to the improving GWS Giants and been mostly unimpressive in the round-four win over Essendon.
“Our good has been pretty good and our bad has been pretty poor,” he said.
“We’ve played some really good footy, but those games against GWS and Essendon we weren’t on the ball.
“Gold Coast are a very quick and skilful side, but if we can kill the ball at the source and keep the ball in our hands that should go a long way to beating them.”