‘Guilty’ Greene dodges AFL finals ban
GWS Giants star Toby Greene has been rapped on the knuckles after being directly referred to the AFL Tribunal following an ugly incident in Saturday's elimination final against the Western Bulldogs.
The star fronted up to the Tribunal and based on the available evidence, was not able to provide an early plea.
In the first quarter of the final between the teams, Greene grabbed Marcus Bontempelli in a headlock.
He appeared to put his hand in Bontempelli's face with the matter referred directly to the AFL Tribunal as serious misconduct.
Greene pleaded guilty for the action at the Tribunal and was handed a $7500 fine by the Tribunal, which the AFL also suggested.
The three-member jury on Monday night took 12 minutes to settle on Greene's penalty after the AFL's legal counsel, Jeff Gleeson QC, recommended a financial sanction was appropriate.
Greene, who had been referred directly to the tribunal, has been charged 17 times.
He has racked up more than $25,000 in career fines and been suspended for six games.
Gleeson submitted that Greene's conduct was unacceptable and unsportsmanlike, saying the Giant had pinned Bontempelli and "rammed" the Bulldog's face with his forearm.
But he conceded the footage didn't clearly indicate eye-gouging or scratching.
Greene briefly gave evidence, saying he had reacted excessively to what he labelled a dangerous tackle on teammate Brett Deledio.
Umpires paid a free kick against Bontempelli for the tackle.
"Looking back on the incident, I understand I overstepped the mark in my remonstration and I understand it's not a great look," Greene said. "I apologise to Marcus if there's any harm done.
"I thought it was a dangerous tackle and that's why I responded."
Greene's advocate, former AFL football operations boss Adrian Anderson, said there had been "all sorts of wild and inaccurate reporting" about injuries suffered by Bontempelli which the Giants believed had been sustained elsewhere.
The AFL's legal counsel suggested a "significant" fine of between $5000 and $7500 was appropriate.
"Obviously, there were nervous times there and I'm really apologetic for what I did," Greene told reporters after the hearing.
"I can't wait to get out there on Saturday."
GWS board member and former match review panel member Jimmy Bartel had expressed confidence earlier on Monday that Greene would avoid suspension.
He wasn't the only one with several legends backing Greene to get off without a suspension.
Speaking on SEN, Garry Lyon, Tim Watson and Nick Riewoldt were convinced he would be cleared.
"I think he's the most important player for the Giants by the way, he gives them a sense of swagger," he told SEN Breakfast.
"I've had a look at it 10 times, I can't see the eye gouge. It will depend on what Marcus Bontempelli says (at the tribunal)."
Riewoldt compared the incident to the Nic Naitanui hair pulling incident with Essendon midfielder Zach Merrett.
"Unless Bontempelli comes out and says I got eye gouged, he'll be fine because we have an in-round precedent for both things," he said.
"We have an in-round precedent for pulling hair so that's just a fine, and we have an in-round precedent for that rough banging his head into the ground, which is throwing someone into a fence.
"So unless we know definitively, which you can't really tell from the vision, so it's only going to be Bontempelli saying: 'I got eye gouged' which will rub him out.
"I'm not going to pretend to understand why they would send it to the tribunal.
"I'm not going to pretend to understand anything that's happened.
"When you've already got the precedent there from the weekend, how can you possibly rationalise giving him a week?"
But social media wasn't as thrilled by the decision.
Toby Greene had no business doing any of what he did, whatever it actually was, to Bontempelli. I find it hard, given his record, to accept a fine with no suspension as a just outcome... and the fact that's the AFL's suggested punishment makes it harder. Awful look all round— Vince Rugari (@VinceRugari) September 9, 2019
Given how much the AFL love a bit of $, it's astonishing that fines are so low.— angela mary claire thompson (@AngeMaryClaire) September 9, 2019
Greene has been found guilty on 16 different occasions in 8 years and it has only cost less than $20k and 6 games.
Hard to see (no pun intended) how Toby Greene plays against Brisbane. Vision looks bad.— Tim Michell (@tim_michell) September 8, 2019
Goodstart Early Learning letting its feelings known on Toby Greene... pic.twitter.com/SeebVWCrYk— Jack Hudson (@jhudson_10) September 8, 2019
Losing Greene would have been a major setback for GWS, after he starred in the 58-point win over the Dogs.
The incident is the latest in a string of heated exchanges in the increasingly fierce rivalry between the clubs.
Greene has been booed by Dogs fans since levelling a karate kick at then-Bulldog Luke Dahlhaus' face and receiving a two-match ban in 2017 for striking Caleb Daniel.
- with AAP