Geelong champion Gary Ablett and Richmond defender Nick Vlastuin were early casualties in the AFL grand final after being injured in an explosive opening five minutes.
Ablett, playing his 357th and final match, hurt his left shoulder in a tackle from Tigers captain Trent Cotchin and was helped off the Gabba ground by trainers, clearly in pain.
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Moments earlier in the same passage of play, Vlastuin was hit in the head by a high elbow from Patrick Dangerfield.
The fairytale grand final send-off for Ablett turned into a nightmare during a chaotic first quarter of Saturday night's decider against Richmond.
Ablett lasted less than five minutes before having to come from the field after injuring his shoulder in a tackle from Tigers captain Trent Cotchin.
The Cats veteran appeared to land awkwardly after being brought down by Cotchin in a smothering tackle.
He immediately grabbed at his shoulder with pain etched across his face as commentators and viewers held their breath.
Ablett looked devastated as he was whisked off the ground by a trainer, with his arm in a sling.
In a crazy start to the grand final, Richmond's Nick Vlastuin also had to be taken from the ground after copping a huge hit from Patrick Dangerfield.
— Yahoo Sport Australia (@YahooSportAu) October 24, 2020
Both players were contesting the footy but Vlastuin was knocked out cold after colliding with the Geelong superstar.
The Cats star punched a contested ball and made high contact with Vlastuin in the same motion.
Vlastuin lay motionless for several minutes before being taken off the ground on a stretcher.
The shocking injuries left fans rocked on social media.
Ablett injured in the first few minutes is such a 2020 thing to happen. #AFLGF
— Veronica Eggleton (@veggleton) October 24, 2020
Absolute carnage in the opening 5mins #AFLGF
— Cmon 🐱 for 2020 🏆 GAJ IS 🐐 (@WCE92940618) October 24, 2020
Gees that’s tough. Ablett out and Vlastuin within 5 mins. Typical 2020 start to the GF
— TD73bomber (@duell_travis) October 24, 2020
All over for Ablett
— Nick H (@nickbyname) October 24, 2020
Surely Ablett isn’t out of the game already?! ((I just caught the slightest glimpse on the tiny tv at the laundromat so pls correct me if I’m wrong))
— jess ✨🏳️🌈 (@Staylucky__) October 24, 2020
Gary Ablett was the only reason to watch the game. Man I hope he can make it back on the ground. #AFLGF
— Rebecca (@fakedelight) October 24, 2020
— Alastair Moore (@alastairmoore) October 24, 2020
That's the same shoulder Gary Ablett had surgery on in 2016. For mine Vlastuin a bigger out #AFLGF
— Hamish Anderson (@SportingHands) October 24, 2020
— Richmond FC 🐯🏆 (@Richmond_FC) October 24, 2020
And now Vlastuin, what a hectic start to the game.
— Bella Kitchen (@BellaKitchen2) October 24, 2020
Ablett returns after treatment
After going back to the sheds momentarily for some treatment, Ablett came back to the sidelines before rejoining the fray late in the opening term.
The dual Brownlow medallist has achieved everything there is to in his 356 AFL matches since debuting way back in 2002.
As well as his pair of Brownlows, the 36-year-old has picked up two premiership medals, eight All-Australian blazers, six club best and fairest awards and five Leigh Matthews trophies.
— AFL (@AFL) October 24, 2020
He and Selwood are the only Cats players that took to the field on Saturday who were a part of the club's 2007 grand-final triumph - a victory that ended a 44-year premiership drought.
The Cats' skipper denied Ablett's final game was any extra motivation for his team however.
"That's no disrespect to him but Gaz came out at the start of the year, basically, and allowed everyone, the football world, to know that this is our last one," he said.
"Hopefully I speak of everyone, but we've celebrated him the right way.
"And, yeah, it would be lovely to see him up there, receiving a medal at the end of the day."