A swathe of former AFL stars have condemned the one-match ban handed to GWS Giants midfielder Toby Greene, with one going so far as to say it was ‘bulls**t’.
The star midfielder attracted heavy scrutiny from fans after the Giants’ thrilling win over the Brisbane Lions, when a replay showed Greene appearing to move his hand over the face of Lachie Neale, after he was tackled.
The vision didn’t conclusively show whether Greene had made contact with Neale’s eyes, but the Lions star did stay on the ground for several moments after the contest and appeared to be in some pain.
Neale would recover and finish the game.
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The ban for Greene comes a week after he was handed a $7500 fine for ‘serious misconduct’ after a similar incident involving Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli.
But several high profile former players turned commentators believe there was not enough evidence for the Match Review Officer to hand Greene a sanction.
North Melbourne great David King and former Richmond star Nathan Brown both took to Twitter to claim there wasn’t conclusive evidence that Greene had committed an offence against Neale.
“Unless L Neale says he was eye gouged or there’s 100% conclusive vision, Toby Greene should play next week,” King wrote.
“Hands on the face isn’t worthy of a week, particularly a Prelim. Don’t give me this second week bull***t - Ben Cunnington has been fined 20 times this year for same action.”
Brown labelled the sanction ‘embarrassing’ in his own tweet, while former Port Adelaide player Kane Cornes lashed out at the controversy on the Sunday Footy Show.
“Once again it’s a non story, if it’s not Toby Greene we are not talking about it,” Cornes said.
“They will look at 30 incidents from last night. It’s a non-issue.
“The way Toby Greene gets assassinated from sections of the reporters and the media is comical.”
Agree. Tribunal should clear him and you can’t miss a Prelim for that and I reckon he plays v Pies— Jim Wilson (@JimWilsonTV) September 15, 2019
The Toby Greene suspension is embarrassing for the Match Review system. Not enough courage to make a call last week and gets sent to tribunal. Less evidence, poor vision this week but the MRO can hand out 1 week?— Nathan Brown (@NathanBrown_07) September 15, 2019
Whether you love or hate the way Greene plays, that’s unjust.
Geelong great Jimmy Bartel also weighed in, saying the narrative that Green was a dirty player had influenced the decision to suspend him.
“As long as Toby Greene’s record — and people have this angst against Toby Greene, so this is not a defence of him, I’m just highlighting the system we’re in — but whatever he did last week doesn’t matter,” Bartel said on 3AW.
“But people will look at this incident going ‘why would he do it?’, so he should be rubbed out because of last week. But he shouldn’t be — but that’ll be the tone of the conversation.”
The Giants are appealing the decision at the AFL Tribunal on Tuesday night.