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Greater Western Sydney superstar Toby Greene has endured a three-game ban at the AFL tribunal and will not play again this season after it was believed he deliberately made contact with an umpire during the elimination final win of the United States. the Giants at the Swans on Saturday.
The three-game suspension means Greene will miss Friday’s semi-final against Geelong, as well as his side’s potential preliminary final and grand final.
After the AFL called for a six-game ban, Greene’s legal team demanded no suspension, preferring a $20,000-25,000 fine.
The tribunal panel was then clearly in jeopardy by issuing a three-game suspension, closing a hearing that lasted more than four hours.
Greene was sent straight to the tribunal for a punch over umpire Matt Stevic in the Giants’ one-point win over the Swans in Launceston.
The two-time All-Australian admitted contact was made with Stevic when he walked toward the Giants team at three-quarters of time, but he pleaded not guilty as it was not intentional.
In defense of his close relationship with Stevic, Greene said “there were some loud noises around me,” and he had to get close to him to make his point during a tense conversation.
When answering why he had contacted the whistleblower, the 27-year-old said he “started rolling to avoid contact” as he walked past him.
Then it was AFL lawyer Jeff Gleeson QC’s turn to challenge Greene — and he was relentless in his argument.
Gleeson claimed Greene could have “easily followed teammate Harry Perryman’s path”, before adding that his job was to control the direction of his movements, yet ran into him and bumped him with a shoulder.
“I made contact, I didn’t bump it,” Greene said.
Gleeson hit back, saying he “deviated to Stevic”.
But Greene rejected that claim.
“I was having a discussion,” Greene said.
“That’s why I was so close to him.”
In Gleeson’s latest submission after a 25-minute break in the hearing, he said “umpires are untouchable.”
“It is fundamental to our game … that the referee is respected,” Gleeson added.
“The moment any of us deviate from enforcing that rule because it is difficult is the moment we change the game and the way our umpires are treated.”
Gleeson also said Greene “complained, swore, came in his face and punched him”, adding that his actions were “brutal and contemptuous”.
Greene’s representative, Ben Ihle QC, agreed with Gleeson that the contact was “a terrible look.”
But he said the question for the tribunal to consider was, “What was going through Toby Greene’s mind the moment contact was made?”
Ihle argued that the tribunal should make a decision not based on appearance, but on what went through Greene’s mind.
“Mr. Greene should never have put himself in that situation, but that doesn’t mean he made contact intentionally,” Ihle added.
Amazingly, Greene had gone to the tribunal hearing today, having already been found guilty on charges 22 times, while also being suspended from a total of eight games and fined a total of $29,350.
The weapons giant’s 176-game AFL career has been shrouded in controversy since his arrival at GWS via the 2011 National Draft.
Today’s trial was attended by Chairman Gleeson as well as panelists Shane Wakelin, Stephen Jurica and Richard Loveridge, while Greene was represented by Ihle.
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