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Get out of jail free card: A new rule that would've let Toby Greene play

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23rd September, 2019

Toby Greene’s controversial one-week ban had the AFL community up in arms this week as he missed the Giants’ preliminary final against Collingwood.

A game that brought controversy of its own, the AFL dodged a bullet with its new high-tech ARC failing to overturn a Collingwood goal that many deemed as blatantly obvious.

Whether you believe Greene deserved a suspension or not, the inconsistency from the MRP one week to the next was an embarrassment from the AFL’s perspective. So what I’m proposing is a rule change in the way of a get out of jail free card for minor discretions and instances where the system has failed a player.

I think most would agree that if a similar incident occurred in Round 15 to a Brownlow Medal favourite the AFL would be handing out nothing more than a fine because no one wants to see a player miss out on a Brownlow for such a minor offence. So why not give clubs the option to have their best players playing come finals time, particularly if the system has failed them as it did for Toby Greene/

This is how it would work:

1. A maximum of one override given to every finals team.

2. The override can only be used on sanctions not exceeding one week.

3. If a player uses his team’s override, he will not be eligible to have a potential ban overturned the following year.

4. The player must serve his sanction the following season with a loading of four additional weeks (five weeks total).


The benefit of having an override is that is gives teams a choice with consideration of the consequences to follow.

For example, if Tom Hawkins was suspended in Round 23 seeing him miss Week 1 of the finals, Geelong would have to consider is it worth bringing Hawkins back when they have the double chance? If so, the repercussions of that decision mean Hawkins will be ineligible to play until Round 6 the following season, severely handicapping their 2020 campaign.

If we were to look at the Giants and the situation they faced, they were heading into a preliminary final with no Lachie Whitfield and no Stephen Coniglio, leaving a massive hole in their midfield. Having the option to play Toby Greene at the expense of next season now becomes crucial from the Giants’ perspective.

For some teams who are on the eve of their premiership window closing, having one last tilt at a flag at the expense of the following season seems like a no-brainer. However, if you were a team on the rise with a quality player facing a suspension early in a finals series, there would be much more to consider.