Ablett added that he had initially been hoping to tackle Shiel, but that once Shiel had handballed, the Cats great decided he should try to minimise contact, claiming that it would have been impossible to altogether avoid contact.
“I made the decision to try to spin away from him,” Ablett said. “I don’t believe that I could have stepped around him.
“I felt if I had kept my feet on the ground we would have made pretty heavy contact. I was pretty close to top speed.
“My intent was never to hurt him. My intent was to get away from the contest as best as possible, making sure neither of us got hurt.”
Ablett’s player advocate Ben Ihle urged tribunal jurors Stewart Loewe, Richard Loveridge and Shane Wakelin to take into account that Ablett had never been suspended across his 328-game AFL career, and that the Geelong great also had a clean record in junior football.
AFL counsel Jeff Gleeson QC did not dispute the fact that Ablett had an “exemplary” record, nor that Ablett’s good history should be taken into account.
However Gleeson made the point that “hard cases make bad law,” arguing that the fact Ablett is a cleanskin champion of the game should not deter the tribunal from finding Ablett guilty of intentional conduct.
Gleeson pondered whether Ablett may have “convinced himself” of a certain version of events.
Gleeson also suggested that Ablett might if anything need to be judged to a higher standard.
“You might question whether a player of his nimble feet and dexterity couldn’t avoid this happening,” Mr Gleeson said.
Ablett, due to turn 35 next week, has turned back the clock early in the 2019 season, playing a key role in the Cats’ rise back to the top of the ladder. He polled another six AFL coaches’ association MVP votes for his performance against the Bombers, leaving him in equal-eighth place in the award’s standings.
While Ablett is in the clear, fellow Cats star Patrick Dangerfield could miss the North game because of a knee injury sustained against the Bombers.
Earlier on Tuesday, Brisbane Lions forward Eric Hipwood, Western Bulldogs forward Billy Gowers and Gold Coast trio Jack Martin, Ben Ainsworth and Alex Sexton accepted fines stemming from incidents across the weekend.
Daniel is an Age sports reporter.