Shane Edwards described training with Gary Ablett as a “surreal experience” and a career highlight — and the legendary Cat felt the same way.
As Ablett and his recent hub training partners prepared to rejoin their respective clubs in Queensland, the dual Brownlow Medallist paid tribute to the fellow AFL players that had helped keep each other in form and shape over recent days.
Ablett trained with St Kilda duo Jade Gresham and Dan Hannebery, as well as Richmond duo Edwards and Bigoa Nyuon, while they all quarantined in the AFL’s transition hub.
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Saints assistant Jarryd Roughead and physio Andrew Wallis, Richmond assistant Sam Lonergan and Cats recruiter Andrew Mackie helped the players during the session.
The group had one final training session on Friday before posing for a transition hub club photo.
In a lengthy Instagram post, Ablett said the group entered as rivals but have left as friends.
“Not long now until we join our playing groups but I must say, it’s been a real highlight training alongside these boys over the last couple of weeks,” Ablett wrote.
“To come into the hub only ever knowing them as opponents, but now leaving having them as mates (including the other boys not in the photo too) is pretty special.
“I just want to say a big thank you to the @richmond_fc and @stkildafc staff who have been working closely with Andrew Mackie, for putting together a great training program for us. We’ve really enjoyed it and we feel ready to go thanks to you boys.
“Thank you also to the @afl team who have been super accommodating and extremely helpful by assisting my family with all that was required to best support Levi whilst up here on the Gold Coast. Both Jordan and I are so grateful and we know many families in this hub feel the same way too.”
Edwards last week said training with Ablett was an “unbelievable opportunity”. At times, he caught himself being a spectator.
“It was pretty surreal,” Edwards said of training alongside Ablett after the session.
“It is actually something I will probably reflect back on and think what an unbelievable opportunity. You know so much about him and haven’t really met him properly. He’s an amazing bloke. I will try to learn as much as I can off him.
“His skills are really sharp and he’s really powerful. I was more of a spectator out there to be honest.”