Great expectations

Towering above many of his opponents, 16-year-old Nathan is making his presence felt in the BFL under 18s this season. Photo: REG RYAN  
Thursday, August 1

IT is easy to understand why Nathan Ablett is reluctant to begin the meteoric rise towards AFL greatness so many have already predicted for him.

The great expectation that comes with not only being former Geelong champion Gary Ablett's son but Gary Ablett junior's brother carries with it immense pressure.

For now perhaps the 16-year-old is better equipped to deal with just playing with his mates in the Modewarre under 18s.

Nathan has so far resisted offers to train with the Geelong Falcons and even Modewarre failed to convince him to step up and play senior football this season.

But just like his older brother, Nathan has inherited an uncanny talent on the football field and the obvious gift from his famous father is something which can no longer be denied.

In Saturday's under-18 Bellarine Football League match against Geelong Amateurs, the onfield dominance of the youngest Ablett was obvious.

He may not have been able to save his side from a 140-point thumping at the hands of the ladder leader, but he showed he had inherited more than a name from his famous father.

Towering above his opponents, the 191cm youngster gathered 23 kicks, six marks and six handballs during an outstanding showing on the ball.

His booming kicks and hard tackles set up the majority of play for his teammates.

Nathan has regularly been one of the Warriors' best on ground this season.

Nathan, who turns 17 in December, will be eligible for the 2003 draft but Geelong remains tight-lipped about the possibility of another Ablett running around at Skilled Stadium in the near future.

Recent changes mean only one player can be picked up by the Cats under the father-son rule in 2003.

Mark Blake, the son of former Geelong ruckman Rod Blake, is another possibility and is already playing for the Falcons.

Falcons regional manager Michael Turner said Nathan would need to join the TAC competition next year if he was to prove himself to the Cats' draft selectors.

``He needs to come into our system so he can develop to his full potential,'' Turner said.

``He's matured at Modewarre which has been good, so the next step is to come into our competition where he can test himself against the best junior players in Australia.

``He has to prove he can play but if he shows potential I've got no doubt he could get drafted.

``But it's difficult for the Geelong Football Club to make an informed decision while he's playing under-18's in the BFL.''

Modewarre's under-18 coach Colin Findlay said Nathan was a ``good honest footballer''. ``He's got a good grab and good spring like his Dad,'' Findlay said.

``And he's got what I'd guess you'd call football smarts, he can read the play extremely well.

``From my point of view and from speaking with Nathan he's going to try and achieve the highest level he can,'' he said. ``And he's certainly showing he's got what it takes.''