GWS are set to lose one of their biggest stars for their preliminary final next week, after the AFL’s Match Review Officer Michael Christian announced a one-game ban for Toby Greene.
Greene came under scrutiny for an incident in last night’s semi-final where he appeared to make contact using his hand with the face of Lachie Neale. He was charged with ‘unreasonable or unnecessary contact to the eye region’.
The incident was strikingly similar to that which had Greene in hot water last week, where he made the same kind of contact with Western Bulldogs’ star Marcus Bontempelli.
On that occasion, Greene was referred directly to the tribunal by the MRO, on a charge of serious misconduct.
The tribunal hearing was over more quickly that might have been expected. Greene plead guilty and was not forced to describe or defend what he had done.
Despite public scrutiny suggesting that Greene may have engaged in eye-gouging on Bontempelli, neither the AFL nor Greene’s defence made any reference to this specifically during the hearing.
This meant Greene was able to take to the field in last night’s semi-final, and proved crucial in delivering a GWS victory, with 30 disposals and two goals in a game the Giants won by just three points.
The MRO has been more specific on this occasion in terms of the type of punishment he is recommending for Greene’s offence.
By recommending a one-match suspension, the AFL Tribunal – if Greene opts to take his case there – will have to consider upholding a ban, rather than having the ambiguity to settle on a fine for a guilty plea.
Given the footage of this incident is arguably less conclusive than that recorded of Greene’s contact with Bontempelli, GWS may have good reason to challenge the finding.
With a spot in the grand final on the line against Collingwood on Saturday night, expect them to strongly consider doing just that.