GWS’ Toby Greene at the Melbourne Magistrates Court following a pub brawl in 2014. Picture: Mark Stewart
GWS’ Toby Greene at the Melbourne Magistrates Court following a pub brawl in 2014. Picture: Mark Stewart

AFL bad boy to $6m man: Why GWS locked up Cousins clone

FOUR years ago - in fact, arguably, at the end of last season - the likelihood of Toby Greene earning a multimillion-dollar deal was almost unfathomable.

Perhaps the more unlikely scenario was an AFL club willing to offer Greene football security with a tenure length like six years.

But on Tuesday, the Giants pledged incredible loyalty to a player the club easily could've lost patience with and trust in.

Star forward Greene this week became the latest Giant to recommit to the club, signing a six-year deal worth as much as $6 million.

The pre-season contract move saves both the Giants and Greene a season of contract speculation, something the former party and star midfielder Josh Kelly endured throughout last year.

GWS now approaches 2018 knowing Greene, the club's "most important player" that has Ben Cousins-like attributes, according to David King, is locked away to the club until 2024.

"He reminds me so much of Ben Cousins. The way he moves, the way he thinks on-field," dual premiership Kangaroo King said.

Toby Greene in 2014. Picture: Mark Stewart
Toby Greene in 2014. Picture: Mark Stewart

The prospect, however, of GWS stressing over Greene's football future is remarkable in itself, considering where the nippy 182cm player's career was at midway through 2014.

Off the field, Greene was in the Giants' bad books after he was charged with a string of offences for a pub brawl in Melbourne's south-east.

As well as being hit with a $2500 fine at the Melbourne Magistrates Court, Greene was suspended for five games and fined $5000 by the club for drinking while injured then failing to properly notify the club of his arrest.

Sensationally, the Giants then received notification from Greene's management that it intended to dispute both punishments, which undoubtedly would've caught the club by surprise.

Then there have been the on-field indiscretions - all 13 of them. In fact, Greene has been suspended or fined at least once each season since he started with the Giants in 2012.

He copped two separate two-game bans last year for striking Dog Caleb Daniel and Tiger Alex Rance, while he's been fined, or let off, for an array of other incidents, including spitting at Tiger Anthony Miles (2015), headbutting Swan Isaac Heeney (2017) and a wayward kick to the face of Dog Luke Dahlhaus.

The array of incidents has led to Greene becoming one of the league's most polarising figures.

After the Rance hit last year, Brisbane great Jonathan Brown said "enough is enough" with Greene, adding that he was in danger of losing the respect of his teammates and the footy world.

Toby Greene was banned after striking Alex Rance of the Tigers.
Toby Greene was banned after striking Alex Rance of the Tigers.

Yet, still, the Giants have remained loyal to Greene, whose rise to stardom has taken the footy world by storm.

"He's a management concern sometimes out of hours, but the best players in our competition over the last two to three decades have always brought that side with them," King said.

"But the upside and reward with this bloke is unparalleled."

After being taken with Pick 11 in the 2011 draft, Greene quickly became one of the Giants' biggest ball-winners. Yet how effective and damaging he was with the ball was constantly questioned.

In a masterstroke move by coach Leon Cameron, Greene was pushed into the forward 50 for the 2016 season.

The results have been outstanding: 89 goals from 42 games, an All-Australian jumper, a best and fairest and a club leading goalkicker award.

Fox Footy analyst King first saw Greene playing high school footy, with the Wesley College star "slicing apart" the King-coached Carey Grammar.

According to King, Greene is a "rare commodity" at 182cm.

"He's a unique player in that he connects the Giants' ball movement, which is the best in the competition, from defence to inside forward 50. It's a significant role," King said.

Toby Greene has kicked 89 goals in two seasons. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Toby Greene has kicked 89 goals in two seasons. Picture: Phil Hillyard

"He's their most important player. While he doesn't get the numbers of the other guys like Josh Kelly, Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio and Lachie Whitfield, he plays a role very few can play.

"He's kicking 45 goals a year, so it's not as if he surprises teams anymore, they know of his importance. But they just can't stop him.

"Life without Toby Greene would make the GWS Giants a very different outfit."

For Greene himself, he was never contemplating life away from the Giants, despite his Victorian roots.

"I didn't contemplate anything else but staying here," Greene told reporters.

"The Giants have shown massive faith in me throughout my career and given me a few chances. I was more than happy to repay the favour."