Greater Western Sydney will mount a last-ditch appeal after the AFL tribunal upheld Toby Greene’s suspension for Saturday’s AFL preliminary final against Collingwood.
The Giants have confirmed they will front the AFL appeals board on Thursday night after Greene failed to overturn his one-match ban for making unreasonable or unnecessary contact to the eye region of Brisbane’s Lachie Neale.
Tuesday night’s shock verdict came despite favourable testimony from Neale, who said he couldn’t recall feeling any contact to his eyes in the semi-final incident at the Gabba.
“We thought we presented a really good case,” Giants football boss Wayne Campbell told reporters immediately after the hearing.
“We need to consider our options now.”
Fronting the tribunal once again, Greene was unable to convince the jury to throw out his 18th career charge after escaping with a $7500 fine last week for serious misconduct against Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli.
That also involved incidents in which Greene had made contact with Bontempelli’s face.
Lachie Neale at the bottom of a pack. Toby Greene in the vicinity. Neale ends up holding his face in pain. What happened there? Footage sketchy… pic.twitter.com/yNoM8OeHaU
— Jon Ralph (@RalphyHeraldSun) September 14, 2019
Tribunal chair David Jones told the jury at the conclusion of the 90-minute hearing that Greene’s extensive disciplinary record was “totally irrelevant” to deliberations.
But after 16 minutes of deliberation, the Giants were handed a major blow to their hopes of upsetting the Magpies at the MCG.
Greene, who has now been suspended for seven career games and racked up more than $26,000 in fines, played a starring role in Saturday night’s epic semi-final win over the Lions.
The jury was shown extensive footage that Greene’s advocate Adrian Anderson argued demonstrated insufficient evidence to sustain the charge.
Greene said he had been attempting to grab the loose ball and hold it in the pack of several players in an attempt to win a holding-the-ball free kick, which was subsequently paid.
He added it was possible he had made inadvertent contact with Neale’s face but not his eye region.
Neale gave evidence over the phone saying he couldn’t recall any contact to his eyes.
“It all happened pretty quick,” Neale said.
“I just remember grabbing my face afterwards. My nose was a little bit sore and it took me a few seconds to gather myself, then I got up and kept playing.
“I’m not really sure how it played out … I have no idea where that contact came from.”
Neale confirmed he had spoken to coach Chris Fagan on Sunday afternoon and told him he hadn’t been hit in the eyes.
AFL counsel Nick Pane QC said little weight should be given to Neale’s “vague” recollection of events, urging the jury members to form their own opinion based on the footage.
Geelong forward Tom Hawkins on Monday also failed to overturn a one-match ban for striking West Coast defender Will Schofield.