Ablett facing mountainous conundrum



You only need to watch Gary Ablett's facial expression as he was denied the 2008 Brownlow Medal many believed was rightfully his - to realise that despite any protestations he may offer, the little bald master is a man who values individual awards.

That is not to say he is not a team player, nor that he is selfish  or a poor leader. Though some of those accusations dogged him during the very early stages of the Gold Coast Suns' inaugural AFL season, when he was rumoured to be making frequent trips to Melbourne, such claims have long since drifted into the ether.

Ablett has moved beyond merely being the game's current pre-eminent player, to legitimately challenge for status as the greatest to have ever played the game.

Nevertheless, Ablett may on Monday night face a daunting conundrum which will challenge the very essence of what he stands for as a footballer. The Match Review Panel could perhaps decide that he has no case to argue for frustrated elbow poke at Bulldog agitator Liam Picken. As Chris Judd can attest to, the MRP can on occasion be prone to leniency when dealing with champions.

However it is well within the realm of possibilities that Ablett will be cited for recklessly making high contact to Picken, a charge which would draw 125 activation points. That is where the situation could become awfully delicate.

With an early guilty plea, Ablett could take a reprimand and not miss his third-placed side's trip to the Adelaide Oval and a date with the lukewarm Crows. This would be the standard response from the overwhelming majority of players, bar those who believe themselves to have been dealt with egregiously. Pragmatism trumps principle when the reprimand is on offer.

But Ablett's situation would be altogether different to that of your average player. Charges which carry more than 100 base points automatically rule the guilty player out of Brownlow Medal contention, regardless of whether they actually miss any football. It was this vagary of the system which almost denied Hawk Sam Mitchell the 2011 Brownlow.

An overwhelming favourite to win a record-equalling third Brownlow, such a choice would challenge the mettle of even the most selfless man. Not to put up a fight, with history beckoning, would doubtless be gut-wrenching for the game's most decorated player. But with the Suns pressing for a maiden finals appearance, martyring himself for the cause when faced with such a predicament would be a more powerful way of placing the team first than any act of courage on the football field.

Then again, if Gold Coast were to be well beaten by the Crows, and Ablett was left a Brownlow night orphan out in front with an asterisk next to his name, he would be made to ponder forever what might have transpired had he appealed rather than copped his whack in vain. There is no easy answer.

Twitter- @danielcherny

The story Ablett facing mountainous conundrum first appeared on Brisbane Times.

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