Geelong champion Gary Ablett turns 35 on Tuesday and he may yet find himself marking the milestone with another visit to the AFL tribunal.
Only days after successfully challenging a one-week suspension for a high hit on Essendon’s Dylan Shiel, Ablett will again come under Match Review Officer scrutiny for a similar incident involving North Melbourne’s Sam Wright.
The dual Brownlow medallist attempted to block Wright from running on after handballing over Ablett’s head, with the umpire paying the Kangaroo a free kick for a high hit.
Like last week’s incident, Ablett left the ground and his arm made high contact – although not forcefully.
He ended Sunday’s game among Geelong’s best players, with four goals in a 24-point win.
It has been an incident-packed year for Ablett, who has been reinvented as a half-forward at Geelong, where he has been a crucial cog in the Cats’ move towards premiership favouritism.
Despite this, opposition fans have become increasingly agitated towards Ablett, regularly booing him in the wake of his social media snafu when he initially appeared to offer support to Israel Folau over his religion-inspired opposition to homosexuality.
Ablett was initially rubbed out for one week for his hit on Shiel – the first time in his career.
Geelong took the matter to the tribunal and had the charge downgraded from intentional to careless conduct, which resulted in a $2000 fine.
“I’ve never intentionally striked [sic] anyone in my career. [I’m] just really happy with the result,” Ablett told reporters after the tribunal hearing.
“I didn’t go to intentionally strike him and I’m glad it all played out the way it did.”
Ablett has now played 329 games, with Geelong’s next match a home fixture against the Western Bulldogs on Saturday.