Kicking back: Nathan Ablett delivered the goods for Werribee.VFL
FORMER Geelong premiership player Nathan Ablett starred in a best-on-ground performance for Werribee in its 78-point thrashing of the Casey Scorpions to provide some further hope of resurrecting his fallen AFL career.
After a lacklustre start to the season at Werribee – in which he only made his senior debut two weeks ago – Ablett has battled injuries and has had to fight for opportunities against a strong North Melbourne contingent up forward to win a spot.
Yesterday, the 26-year-old showed he still has what it takes to get back to AFL level after being delisted by Gold Coast last season. He kicked four goals, controlled the ruck in the forward line and provided some strong defensive pressure at Avalon Airport Oval.
The shy Ablett appears to be enjoying his football again and, after every match, he completes yoga exercises separate to the main group in the club rooms and appears dedicated to keeping fit and injury-free after a series of back and hamstring-related issues.
Werribee coach Scott West praised Ablett on playing his best game of the season so far and is looking to promote the player, and other AFL draft hopefuls, in the Foxtel Cup clash against Morningside next week for recruiters to take a strong look at what he can still offer clubs. ”There’s no doubt he’s got time and space when he gets the ball,” West said. ”He tends to be able to create something out of nothing with the snap today and get a handball sideways to someone.
”A part of his role is to do most of his forward rucks when he’s down there and, obviously, it’s a great advantage to have someone with the great experience he’s got.”
West believes Ablett isn’t thinking about being drafted again, which has helped him succeed once more. He came to Werribee to play VFL to give it ”one last crack”.
”I think a lot of our guys put those ambitions on the back burner because it’s not part of the process. That’s the end result of playing well.”
Ablett’s cousin Travis Tuck, the former Hawk who was delisted because of reaching three strikes under the AFL’s illicit drugs policy, missed through illness yesterday but has also been impressive in his second season at Werribee in his search for redemption.
Werribee has become a haven for delisted AFL players looking for second chances in recent seasons. Ex-North midfielder Ben Ross is one who is believed to be on the AFL radar once more, while ex-Hawk Mitch Thorp tried his luck, and despite some interest from Melbourne, did not receive an AFL lifeline and decided to play local footy.
Werribee smashed Casey in ”pretty much all areas”, according to Scorpions coach Brett Lovett yesterday. It was just its second loss of the season yet appeared to be a troubling sign for the club.
The Scorpions face Port Melbourne in another genuine test for the second-placed team.
”You never come to a game and expect to get beat by 90 points or whatever, so we’re very disappointed,” Lovett said. ”We just think our guys, particularly early, didn’t come to play and didn’t come to play all day. They showed today that they’re bloody good opposition. I thought their ball use and their strength, they just beat us in most areas.”
Lovett described third-placed Werribee as the best team the Scorpions have played so far.
The game opened up in the first half as the Tigers took a 43-point lead into the main break.
Meanwhile, Port Melbourne withstood a gutsy challenge from Sandringham to post a healthy 30-point win at North Port Oval yesterday.
Box Hill was far too superior for the Northern Blues after half-time to post a 57-point win at Box Hill City Oval.
Kyle Cheney, Tom Murphy and Brad Hill were among the best for the Hawks as they consolidated seventh spot.
Collingwood v Frankston, 1pm, Victoria Park; Williamstown v North Ballarat, 2pm, Burbank Oval;
Coburg v Geelong, 2pm, Reid Oval, Warrnambool.
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