With the AFL trade period approaching, former Gold Coast Suns captain Gary Ablett and ex-Sydney Swans skipper Jarrad McVeigh are facing an uncertain future beyond this season. So, what could happen next?
Ablett is a contracted player for the 2018 season, which means Gold Coast has every right to start planning 2018 with him in mind. Ablett did ask for a trade back to Geelong during last season’s trade period, which the Suns swiftly denied as he was a required player.
Given the state of the Suns’ list – along with having made zero finals appearance since joining the AFL in 2011 – it’s fair to say Ablett wouldn’t be too keen on hanging around in his final season to help the club keep developing its young talent. However, the Suns need him to stay, given they don’t have a midfielder nearly as good as the modern great, even at age 34.
The Suns have only won five of 44 games without Ablett, further highlighting his importance.
While it might go against the direction that the Cats are heading in thanks to the retirements last year of Corey Enright and Jimmy Bartel, and now Andrew Mackie and Tom Lonergan this season,
AFL, Robert Walls says Gold Coast Suns should get rid of Gary Ablett as soon as possible | Fox Sports https://t.co/ZyBIPvYIJl
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Geelong have always fantasised over Ablett returning for one last hurrah before he retires and they are in premiership contention, with another top-four finish this season highlighting how close they are.
As Hawthorn learnt last year pursuing Jaeger O’Meara, Gold Coast won’t let good players go cheap. Expect the Suns to drive a hard bargain to let Ablett go. The Cats would be expected to offer something substantial to the Suns; draft picks 20 and 34 and $500,000 might be enough to entice the Suns to part ways, given the Suns have already paid half of Ablett’s salary for next year.
If Ablett tries to force his hand and gets denied, however, he has floated the idea of retirement if he isn’t allowed to get his move to Geelong. The two-time Brownlow Medal winner has achieved everything in the game a midfielder could ever ask for; his on-field legacy will remain intact if he has already played his last game of AFL football.
The former Swans captain has been a fine contributor over the years as the famed ‘bloods culture’ lives on strong now with Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker and Dan Hannebery. McVeigh has reinvented himself playing in the backline as a player that can provide accurate distribution and calmness when under pressure, strongly contributing to the Swans’ rise up the ladder this season since playing every game from Round 15.
McVeigh is showing similar signs as Matthew Boyd from the Western Bulldogs did when transitioning into the backline once his days as a full-time midfielder were over. With his accurate kicking from the back half a weapon the Swans have utilised McVeigh very well to get line-breakers like Zak Jones further up the ground.
Gold Coast 2017 review: Jimmy Bartel says Suns should target Jarrad McVeigh https://t.co/RgdryTLmcb
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While the Swans have given no guarantees of letting McVeigh stay on as he currently doesn’t have a contract for 2018, it is likely he could move to a new home for another couple of seasons at a side that needs help down back.
Finals-competing sides that could do with help distributing the ball out include Port Adelaide, Western Bulldogs and Melbourne. Meanwhile, given what Essendon are losing with the retiring James Kelly departing, the Bombers could use a replacement of McVeigh’s ilk.
One way or another, expect to see more of McVeigh running around for another year or two before moving into a coaching role.