Friday, Feb. 14
NATHAN Ablett, the youngest son of football legend Gary Ablett, has turned his back on the Geelong Falcons.
Ablett's decision to quit the TAC Cup club, announced to Falcons officials on Monday, has put the young forward's chances of being drafted to Geelong in serious doubt.
Sources said yesterday that 17-year-old Nathan was considering giving the game away and had left the Falcons because he was not comfortable with the expectations his name carried.
Falcons regional manager Michael Turner - who played alongside Nathan's father Gary in the 1980s - said that while he disagreed with Ablett's decision to quit the club, he understood the pressures on him.
``There are a lot of kids out there who would love to have his God-given ability, so I would question whether he's done the right thing,'' Turner said.
``At the same time, he is a mature young man and is capable of making his own decisions. He knows what the best thing for him is and I respect his decision.''
Turner said the 193cm tall Ablett, who quit school this year to undertake a building pre-apprenticeship, had not missed a training session before Christmas.
He said Ablett and was earmarked as the Falcons' centre-half forward this year.
He said the young forward was considering giving the game away despite being eligible to be drafted. Geelong would have priority in recruiting him under the father-son rule, meaning he could play alongside older brother Gary junior.
``At this stage he doesn't want to play football,'' Turner said.
``I have been doing this for a long time and there hasn't been too many boys I've seen with the same amount of potential as Nathan.
``There's no doubt in my mind - you can just tell with his skills and ball handling ability - he would have been drafted.''
Trevor Anderson, president of Modewarre Football Club where Nathan played in recent years, said the young forward was ``too talented'' to restrict himself to playing in the BFL, but that he supported his decision.
And he questioned whether the 17-year-old could handle the pressures placed on him.
``I think there was a fair bit of pressure because of who his father and brother are, and because he grew so much last year. There was a fair bit of pressure to follow the same path,'' Anderson said.
``Given the talent he showed last year, I have got no doubt he could go on to play AFL, but he has to want to do that.
``Obviously he could play a higher standard, but if he doesn't want to, he's more than welcome at Modewarre.''
Anderson said he would be ``very surprised'' if Ablett gave the sport away.
Turner said Ablett was welcome to rejoin the Falcons at any stage throughout the season.
If Ablett returned to the club and nominated for the 2003 National Draft, Geelong - which is allowed only one father-son draft selection each year - would be faced with the quandary of choosing between Ablett and 200cm tall Falcon Mark Blake, the son of former Cats best and fairest winner Rod Blake.
If Geelong picks up Blake at the end of this year and Ablett does not nominate
for the draft, the Cats can recruit him under the father-son rule next year.