Greater Western Sydney star Toby Greene will not play for the Giants again this season after being handed a three-week ban for intentionally making contact with umpire Matt Stevic.
Greene had been found guilty of intentionally making contact with the umpire after earlier apologising at his AFL Tribunal hearing which lasted more than three hours.
Greene admitted contact but tried to argue about the intention.
The jury for the hearing was made up of Shane Wakelin, Stephen Jurica and Richard Loveridge. Greene was represented by Ben Ihle QC, while the AFL’s legal counsel was Jeff Gleeson QC.
Greene walked into umpire Matt Stevic, shoulder to shoulder, during the Giants’ elimination final win over Sydney on Saturday and was later charged with intentional umpire contact.
During today’s tribunal hearing Greene said that he wasn’t aware he made contact with the umpire until he was asked about it in a post-game interview.
“I do apologise for making contact and it’s certainly something that I wasn’t trying to do,” Greene said.
“I agree that it’s not a great look for the game.”
Umpire Stevic also gave evidence and an email he sent to the AFL umpires’ boss has been released which painted Greene in a reasonable light.
“Toby Greene was walking towards me as I stood stationary. As he got closer to me, he made a comment to me about an incident during the third quarter and said, ‘The player took a dive’. I was aware around this time Greene made some minor contact with me as he was walking by. I turned and responded to Toby, saying ‘No, two umpires paid it, it was high’. I considered the contact minor and didn’t feel threatened at the time,” Stevic said.
Umpire Matt Stevic says he did not think Toby Greene’s contact was aggressive, demonstrative or disrespectful, as contended by AFL. But later under questioning of AFL says he would say there is element of it being disrespectful.
— Andrew Wu (@wutube) August 31, 2021
Jeff Gleeson QC made his thoughts clear on why Greene must face strong punishment and called for Greene to be suspended for at least six weeks.
“This is a serious offence and a serious moment in the governance of the game,” he said.
“The sanction should say to Toby Greene don’t do this again and to anyone who plays the game don’t do this.”
“It’s fundamental to our game … that the umpire is respected. The moment any of us deviate from enforcing that rule, because it’s hard, is the moment we change the game and the way our umpires are treated,” he said.
According to Gleeson, Greene “complained, swore, got in his face, and bumped him” and his actions were “insolent and contemptuous.”
Ben Ihle QC representing Greene:
"It's not about the look… it's about what is Toby Greene thinking."
— Shane McInnes (@shanemcinnes) August 31, 2021
Greene was excused from the hearing before his punishment was announced so he could make it to the airport ahead of the Giants’ flight from Launceston to Perth at 3pm.
While many current and former players came to Greene’s defence, plenty of other observers believed he needed to be rubbed out of the Giants’ semi-final showdown with Geelong.
Brisbane coach Chris Fagan and Port Adelaide counterpart Ken Hinkley called on Greene to miss at least one week.
“It doesn’t look good,” Fagan said on Fox Footy.
“I don’t think we can condone at all contact with umpires, so for me I think personally he (Greene) is in a little bit of trouble.
“As much as we all love watching him play and he entertains us and brings life to the game, you just can’t do that sort of stuff.
“It’s a good reminder to everyone.”
Hinkley said Greene’s high profile and long tribunal history should not affect the outcome but added respect for umpires was a “non-negotiable”.
This is Greene’s 22nd Match Review charge in 176 games.
“You don’t abuse and you don’t go near umpires – you respect them for what they bring to the game,” Hinkley said.
“It would be a terrible game without them. It’s a difficult situation but it looks reasonably clear.”
Greene’s hearing was scheduled to start at 9am AEST, brought forward to help GWS with travel plans.
The Giants face further issues with Tom Green out for the season with a fractured radius.
Isaac Cumming (ankle) and Sam Reid (hamstring) are also in doubt after suffering injuries in Saturday’s epic elimination final while Brent Daniels (hamstring) and Xavier O’Halloran (calf) are not expected to return.