Incredible Ablett Grand Final revelation
Scans have revealed Gary Ablett played through the pain of a cracked shoulder to see out the AFL Grand Final on Saturday night.
Richmond beat Geelong by 31 points in the decider to crush Ablett's hopes of a fairytale finish to his illustrious career, the Little Master waving goodbye to the game after revealing during the year he would retire at season's end.
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Despite the loss, making it all the way to full-time was an achievement in itself for the 36-year-old, who appeared to suffer a serious injury just a few minutes into the first quarter of the clash at the Gabba.
Ablett was in severe pain as he held his left arm and was escorted off the field by medicos after falling awkwardly in a tackle. He looked in such discomfort commentators speculated that may have been the end of Ablett's night.
Miraculously, the star midfielder returned to the field later in the first quarter all strapped up but was still hampered by the injury. He went down grimacing again in the third term, going off before coming back on to try and inspire a late Geelong comeback.
It wasn't to be for the Cats legend, who showed true bravery right to the end.
The Age reports Ablett suffered a crack in his shoulder and will see a surgeon to discuss the next step in his recovery.
While the Tigers celebrated their third premiership in four years, Ablett was given his chance to soak up the spotlight.
Richmond showed terrific sportsmanship in forming a guard of honour with Geelong to pay their respects to the Little Master, who is signing off after 18 years in the AFL.
Richmond took an extra, classy step during the touching send-off as eagle-eyed footy fans noticed the Tigers had put away their new premiership medals as they formed the guard of honour, so as not to rub their victory in Ablett's face.
Speaking on AFL 360, Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt revealed his team didn't want to take anything from the legend's final moments on the field as a player.
"I spoke to Danger (Patrick Dangerfield after the game) and just said, 'Look, we'd really like to do this'," Riewoldt revealed.
"To be honest the medal idea came from when Dustin did it in 2017. He didn't wear his Norm Smith around when all of us had our premiership medals on … he didn't want to be the only one out with two medals.
"This isn't a moment for us - we paused our celebrations - this was actually about respecting and honouring a champion of the game.
"I'd hate for Gary to look back on those images and see all of us standing there with the spoils of victory, and take the shine away from what has arguably been the greatest career in AFL history.
"A small gesture but we've had some correspondence with Geelong and they really appreciate it. As Dustin said in his speech, he's one of the greatest players to ever play the game and he deserves the respect. We were happy to give that to him and to send him the love."
Originally published as Incredible Ablett Grand Final revelation