Scans have revealed that Geelong star Gary Ablett played through Saturday’s Grand Final with a cracked shoulder, per The Age.
Ablett sustained the injury in the opening minutes of the season decider, with many believing his final match would be drawn to a deflating ending.
The 36-year-old was escorted from the ground after injuring his shoulder and was treated on the bench for a prolonged period before making a miraculous return.
Ablett was seen in pain throughout the game, but looked to battle the injury in hope of getting his side over the line.
The Tigers went on to win the game by 31 points, clinching their third flag in four years as Ablett was farewelled from the field post-match.
While it wasn’t the night for Geelong, Ablett was given the guard of honour from both clubs in what was an act of terrific sportsmanship.
Richmond players went as far as taking off their premiership medals when congratulating the two-time Brownlow medallist.
“I spoke to Danger (Patrick Dangerfield after the game) and just said, ‘Look, we’d really like to do this’,” Jack Riewoldt revealed on AFL 360.
“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.”