The GWS Giants expect to feel the sting in Gary Ablett’s tail in Saturday’s clash between the two AFL expansion clubs at Spotless Stadium.
The fifth-placed Giants are hot favourites to extend their club record four-match winning streak and continue their pursuit of a maiden finals berth against the struggling Suns, who are heading in the other direction after four straight defeats.
Ablett has come in for criticism and admitted being below his best, but GWS coach Leon Cameron says it’d be foolish not to expect a backlash from the dual Brownlow Medallist.
“He’s a super player, so we’ve got a massive challenge,” Cameron said on Wednesday.
“People are going to expect him to have 35 possessions and kick four goals every week.
“He’s been a superstar for 10 years and probably done that for nine and a half years.
“He has a couple of games where it might be 27 (possessions) and one goal. If my `mids’ (midfielders) are having 27 and one goal, I’m pretty goddamn happy.
“I mean, they mark him really, really hard.”
But no-one marks Ablett harder than Ablett, who agreed with teammates during an honesty session after their heavy loss to Geelong two weeks ago that he hasn’t been winning enough contested ball.
The 31-year-old put his less-than-usual impact on games down to self preservation following major shoulder surgery last year.
But former premiership-winning Geelong teammate Steve Johnson, enjoying a fine first season at GWS, has warned the Giants to be wary.
“He’s the most competitive person I’ve ever met and there’s no doubt the criticism will be used as motivation by him,” Johnson said.
“Even though he’s been a little bit down on form, he’s still been productive for their team.
“Everyone likes to compare Gaz to his absolute best and he sets a very high bar.
“There’s no doubt someone will have a role to go on him to try and curb his influence.
“We’ve got to prepare for Gary to be back to his best because if you take him lightly, he’ll definitely hurt you.”
Johnson admits Ablett is virtually impossible to contain if fully fit.
“I haven’t seen too many people do it,” he said.
“I guess you can only be a victim of how his body’s feeling. If he’s feeling 100 per cent, there’s no one that can really stop him in his tracks completely.”
Coach Cameron said Tim Mohr was likely to replace injured defender Phil Davis in what will be the Tasmanian’s first AFL match in two years following two knee reconstructions.