In striking distance of returning to the AFL's biggest stage, Geelong champion Gary Ablett is adamant he's yet to decide whether this September will be his last hurrah.
Ablett's future is a fascinating subplot as the Cats prepare to face Richmond on Friday night at the MCG for a spot in the grand final.
The two-time Brownlow Medallist had appeared likely to extend his career into a 19th season after starting the 2019 campaign in strong touch.
But a dip in form which has extended into the finals has added to the intrigue surrounding the 35-year-old's decision.
Ablett was held goalless and had little impact in both the qualifying-final loss to Collingwood and the semi-final victory over West Coast, receiving close attention from Brayden Maynard and Jackson Nelson respectively.
"Teams have played me tightly, that's for sure," Ablett said on Monday.
"But I think my role as a forward is not necessarily touching the ball 20 or 25 times. I had some really good opportunities on the weekend to kick goals that I didn't make the most of.
"A big part of my week is going to be getting out and doing plenty of goal-kicking.
"If I can have 15 touches and kick two or three goals, that's playing my role for the team."
Ablett is plainly not just any veteran, and the Cats have indicated he will be given the freedom to make the call on his future.
"I've felt like I've had a pretty good year," he said.
"There's a lot that I have to weigh up and those conversations will happen at the end of the season."
A Geelong premiership player in 2007 and 2009, Ablett was starved of September football during his seven seasons with Gold Coast, then returned to Kardinia Park last season when the Cats were knocked out of the finals in the opening week.
His individual performance against the Eagles notwithstanding, Ablett said his first finals victory in nine years had tasted sweet.
"That's why I came back to Geelong - to ultimately win a grand final and get back to playing some finals footy," he said.
"It was a tough game Friday night ... when that final siren went, there was mixed emotions.
"I was excited but at the same time, I was pretty tired.
"We've got a really good opportunity this week to make a grand final and I know the boys will be giving it a really good crack."
Gary Rohan (knee) is a chance to return on Friday night but Mitch Duncan's knee remains in a brace and his only chance of playing again this year is if the Cats make the grand final.
Australian Associated Press