Third time unlucky for Ablett
GARY Ablett's latest outburst has cost him an AFL suspension with the league declaring it will not tolerate players striking each other off the ball.
Match review officer Michael Christian handed down a one-game ban to the Geelong champion, who caught Gold Coast opponent Anthony Miles square in the jaw with a right-arm jab during the Cats' win at Metricon Stadium on Saturday.
It was the third time in four weeks that 35-year-old Ablett had faced match review scrutiny in a bizarre ill-disciplined runfor the decorated veteran.
Ablett successfully challenged a one-game suspension for a high hit on Essendon's Dylan Shiel atthe tribunal after round seven, then escaped sanction for a similar head-high bump on North Melbourne's Sam Wright a week later.
Unlike both those incidents, Ablett's hit on Miles was well off the ball. The question was whether it would be classified as insufficient force, as was the case in the Wright incident.
But while Miles was quickly back on his feet, Christian ruled that Ablett's strike had the potential to cause serious injury.
"That was certainly considered, and that's certainly relevant for highly intentional actions as this was," Christian said on Monday.
"Taking into account all the factors that we look at when grading impact and the potential to cause injury,we were comfortable that it sat under low impact."
Christian said the latest incident had been assessed independently of Ablett's recent misdemeanours.
But the recent suspensions handed to Richmond duo Dustin Martin and Ivan Soldo for similar incidents had made clear the AFL's views.
"Any striking action, off the ball in particular, is something that we don't want to see in the game," he said.
"Under the guidelines, off-ball intentional strikes don't belong in the game, so they'll be treated accordingly."
Geelong have until 11am on Tuesday to decide whether Ablett - who has never served a suspension in 331 games - will face the tribunal for the second time this year.
"That's entirely up to Gary and entirely up to Geelong," Christian said. "I'm really comfortable with the system ... if clubs and players want to go to the tribunal, that's their absolute right." Ablett was the only player suspended from round 10's games.
Melbourne's Clayton Oliver, GWS forward Toby Greene and St Kilda's Luke Dunstan were also charged with striking and offered $2000 fines.
Oliver and Greene did not make high contact, while Dunstan's strike on Carlton forward Michael Gibbons was classified as careless rather than intentional.
St Kilda rookie Ben Long was reported for rough conduct but his bump on Blues veteran Levi Casboult was deemed to be of insufficient force to justify a charge.