Damning angle of AFL star’s dirty act
GWS will make one last roll of the dice in a desperate bid to retain talismanic forward Toby Greene for Saturday's AFL preliminary final against Collingwood.
The Giants have confirmed they will front the AFL appeals board on Thursday night after Greene failed to overturn his one-match ban for making unreasonable or unnecessary contact to the eye region of Brisbane's Lachie Neale.
Tuesday night's tribunal verdict came despite favourable testimony from Neale, who said he couldn't recall feeling any contact to his eyes.
"We thought we presented a really good case," Giants football boss Wayne Campbell told reporters immediately after the hearing.
The jury was shown extensive footage which Greene's advocate Adrian Anderson argued demonstrated insufficient evidence to sustain the charge. Greene said he had been attempting to grab the loose ball and hold it in the pack of several players in an attempt to win a holding the ball free kick, which was subsequently paid.
He added it was possible he had made inadvertent contact with Neale's face but not his eye region.
Neale gave evidence over the phone saying he couldn't recall any contact to his eyes. "It all happened pretty quick," Neale said.
"I just remember grabbing my face afterwards. My nose was a little bit sore and it took me a few seconds to gather myself, then I got up and kept playing. I'm not really sure how it played out … I have no idea where that contact came from."
AFL counsel Nick Pane QC said little weight should be given to Neale's "vague" recollection of events, urging the jury members to form their own opinion based on the footage.
This angle in particular appeared particularly damning as Greene appears to rake Neale's face with his left hand.
Richo, I love you, but he's literally scratched his eye here.... pic.twitter.com/ADQsqL2n3U— Luke Brazier (@lukeybrazier) September 17, 2019
'CRAZY SCENES' AFTER TRIBUNAL
There were farcical scenes after the verdict was handed down as the Giants attempt to make a quick escape backfired.
Greene tried to dodge a waiting pack of reporters but became unstuck by a locked door.
"We were waiting for him to come out and our cameraman was looking out the side door, so he chased him out with a camera and there was chaos in here, everyone was running out the door," Fox Sports' Drew Jones said.
"Now he was led down through the inside of Marvel Stadium here to another door, which was locked, so they couldn't get out, so they had to walk all the way back through - in which we were able to throw a couple of questions at Toby, but Toby he obviously wasn't speaking. Just crazy scenes.
"Eventually the AFL and a couple of officials led him out the front door basically. So Toby Greene having a couple of dramas. Unfortunately it didn't go his way tonight."
WHAT ARE HIS CHANCES OF A SUCCESSFUL APPEAL?
Greene's enormous importance to the Giants was emphasised during the semi-final victory at the Gabba, where he gathered 30 disposals and booted two goals.
The firebrand Giant had been at risk of missing that game but escaped with a $7500 fine for misconduct against Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli - a charge that also centred on Greene making contact with an opponent's face.
Greene has now been suspended for seven career games and racked up more than $26,000 in fines
Tribunal chair David Jones told the jury at the conclusion of the 90-minute hearing that Greene's extensive disciplinary record was "totally irrelevant" to deliberations.
While Greene's growing rap sheet is a concern for the Giants, not having him available to face the Pies would be an even bigger worry.
GWS have only managed three wins from 18 games at the MCG and have never won a final there.
The Giants wasted little time deciding to appeal but the odds are stacked against them given only two out of 16 players have successfully challenged tribunal verdicts, the last being Melbourne midfielder Jack Viney in 2014.
More recent appeals have come from the AFL rather than clubs. Richmond's Bachar Houli notably had a two-week striking ban doubled by the appeals board in 2017 after the AFL mounted an unprecedented challenge against his initial sanction.
The AFL also went to the appeals board last season to seek harsher penalties against Carlton brothers Charlie and Ed Curnow for making contact with umpires. Ed Curnow's charge was upgraded from careless to intentional contact and his penalty changed from a fine to a suspension.