Mountford’s moment with star Ablett

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Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser

North Melbourne fourth-gamer Declan Mountford said it was an incredible experience to shadow Gold Coast Suns star Gary Ablett in his 300th AFL game at Metricon Stadium last Saturday night.

The former North Albany junior ran out in his fourth AFL match since being drafted in 2015 and was given the ominous task of tagging the dual Brownlow medallist in his significant personal milestone after a glittering career with Geelong and now the Suns.

However, Mountford was not daunted by the challenge, performing well enough to draw praise from his coach Brad Scott.

Ablett received only three votes in the AFL Coaches’ Association champion player of the year award. Mountford finished with a career-high 17 disposals to go with three marks, five clearances and 10 tackles, while Ablett was chaired from the ground after the Suns’ victory after 37 possessions, five marks, 10 clearances and seven inside 50s.

Ablett took time out of his celebrations after the game to share a nice moment with the 20-year-old, who hails from Manypeaks.

“Pre-game, I walked up to him, shook his hand and said congratulations on your 300th — it’s an amazing achievement,” Mountford said.

“After the game, he turned to me and said ‘good battle, keep working hard- young fella’.”

Mountford said he had looked forward to the challenge of negating one of the best players in the game.

“It was an unbelievable experience to get to play on Gary in his 300th,” he said. “To see just how good he is first hand.

“Great players like him, they lead you to the ball a bit and it was a good learning experience.”

Drafted from Claremont as a hard-running midfielder, Mountford said it had been a challenging period forcing his way back into the team after several weeks playing VFL after his round 1 debut.

“It feels good to be back in the team — that’s why I came over here, to play AFL football,” he said.

“I went back and tried to play to my AFL elite qualities as Brad always tells us, and for me that’s my running. At times, it was frustrating not playing and being named as emergency a few times.

“Playing more positions like wing, half-forward, tagging gives me a better chance of staying in the team and I’m just focused on trying to retain my spot for the rest of the season.”

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