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Ballina Bombers junior footballers, Jack Oates (left), 13, and Lochie Cottrill, 8, with AFL legend Robert “Dipper” DiPierdomenico at Ballina yesterday.
Ballina Bombers junior footballers, Jack Oates (left), 13, and Lochie Cottrill, 8, with AFL legend Robert “Dipper” DiPierdomenico at Ballina yesterday.

AFL great player Robert “Dipper” DiPierdomenico believes Gary Ablett jnr made the right decision in signing with Gold Coast Suns on a five-year contract worth a reported $10 million.

Ablett will be up against his former club Geelong in the Suns' first home game at the new Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast on Saturday night.

“It really is a business and lifestyle choice now,” DiPierdomenico, in Ballina yesterday, said.

“If you're a young player you have more opportunity now that the Suns and GWS have come along.

“I was lucky to play for 18 years and was successful in my time at the one club.

“But you can have one knee injury now and it's all over.

“It will be interesting to see how Ablett gets treated this weekend up against his old mates.

“There are a lot of good players at the Cats, so it will be a challenge for Gary over the next couple of seasons.”

DiPierdomenico is no stranger to the Ablett family.

A collision with Gary Ablett snr in the epic 1989 VFL grand final broke several of DiPierdomenico's ribs and punctured one of his lungs, but he played the entire game.

“He (Ablett) got me pretty good and went on to kick nine goals,” DiPierdomenico recalled.

“But we ended up winning the game (by one goal), so that's the main thing. Unfortunately he never played in a winning grand final.

“His son has won two (premierships) and a Brownlow medal ... but Gary snr was something pretty special.”

DiPierdomenico was at Summerland AFL club Ballina Bombers' training yesterday and he ran junior and senior coaching clinics as part of his work with Mouse Promotions.

He also works as an ambassador for the AFL's hugely successful Auskick program.

“I love visiting places like Ballina, where the kids play a lot of different sports,” he said.

“I just want to make sure AFL is up there. It's always been difficult to get Brisbane or Sydney players here, so it's great to have the Suns just up the road now.

“This is an area Gold Coast need to target and it's good that they have started to recognise that.”

Topics:  afl gary ablett jnr gold coast suns lismore


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