'He's hated because he's so good': Greene thrives on boos

Rob Forsaith
'He's hated because he's so good': Greene thrives on boos

If GWS worried about public opinion as much as Australia's two major political parties, Toby Greene would have been axed a long time ago.

Greene's polls would not be good reading this week.

The combative forward secured his status as the finals' pantomime villain at the SCG, flinging out his leg while taking a couple of marks.

Enraged commentators called it a bad look and demanded rule changes, Sydney fans booed him off the park and social media lit up with angst and abuse.

The 24-year-old can expect similar treatment from the Collingwood faithful at the MCG in Saturday's knock-out final.

The foundation Giant is well loved by teammates and GWS supporters; the queue for his autograph is generally the longest at fan days.

Most AFL fans adopt a different view of Greene, who had a beer tipped on him while walking down the Etihad Stadium tunnel following one win last year.

Some of the hostility can be explained by Greene's knack of pushing buttons while pushing the envelope, such as last week's knee drop on Isaac Heeney that resulted in a fine.

Callan Ward says Toby Greene is hated because he's so good. Pic: Getty

But not all of it. Rival players attack the game in similar fashion but few seem to conjure as much passionate hatred.

"He's probably hated because he's so good," GWS co-captain Callan Ward said.

"Their team can't stop him and he stands up when we need him to.

"I don't know. He's got that look about him maybe? A bit of spunk, a bit of a strut.

"Every time he's been booed, he's stood up. Which probably angers the opposition even more."

The good news for GWS is the premiership race is not a popularity contest, and they're yet to lose a game this season with Greene in their 22.

The pint-sized forward, who would have outscored the Swans in his comeback from a hamstring injury if he kicked straight, was best on ground in last week's elimination final according to the coaches' votes.

His previous return from injury, after almost three months on the sidelines, included the match-winning goal against a rampaging Richmond.

There is also a knock-on effect. Multiple teammates have noted they walk taller and play better in Greene's presence.

"He's a big-game player and one of the best one-on-one players in the comp," Ward said.

"He makes a massive difference. If I was an AFL lover in the crowd, I'd watch Toby in admiration. I'd clap because he does some freakish things."

Ward suggested Greene must work on his studs-up marking technique.

"But at the same time I don't think he's doing anything illegal," he added.

"He's protecting his space and taking good marks."

Greene's standing at GWS is reflected by a six-year contract extension, the longest deal offered by the expansion club, he signed in March.