JOEL Selwood admits his uncanny ability to draw head-high free kicks is a legitimate evasive technique and he is merely exploiting an advantage he has over less experienced or weaker opponents.
The new Geelong captain acknowledges the criticism of his technique but makes no apology and says what he does is within the rules. He drew 60 free kicks last season, the second most in the competition, and six in round one.
Former Hawthorn star Dermott Brereton has been among the most strident critics of Selwood's technique to lift his arm and drop at the knees to force a tackler's hand to slide up and around his neck and so draw a free kick. Selwood hears the criticism but is unswayed by it, observing that it is the umpire who awards the free kick, not him, and that it is only paid because the player has caught him high.
''Continually they will come up those comments,'' Selwood said in an interview with The Age ahead of today's blockbuster against fellow premiership contender Hawthorn.
''I see the benefit and an advantage I am getting at the moment on someone else because I see a weakness in what they are doing. The majority of the time they are doing 95 per cent of the tackle right. It is just that 5 per cent where I can use my upper body strength, I can dip at the knees slightly. But it gets highlighted so much when I do get a free kick because it is high and it has always been a part of our game not to get someone high.
''At the end of the day I have got the free kick. Most players do it correctly until I can draw a free kick off them. We see blokes who are very good at drawing a free kick in other ways; Paul Chapman is good at getting pushed in the back. Ashton Hams [West Coast] is similar to me; he can draw free kicks from getting him high.
''There is a little bit of an art to it. You can talk about the whole thing that I duck but I do it to the rules at the moment and I will continue to do it until they get changed.
''When I look at an opponent and if I feel I'm stronger than him, then I want him to come on to me and make the first step into me. He can make the first move, but I'll make the second move.
''On the other hand if I am against a Chris Judd or someone who is probably stronger than me - [such as] Jobe Watson - I want to make sure that I make the first move so I have to make them get on the back foot a little bit and then try and wriggle out of there.
''You just have to work to your strengths and I draw on that, if I am on someone not as strong or experienced.''