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The Tribunal’s Greene call gave us a clear and helpful expectation – it’s just not very practical


The suspension stands – that was the most likely and understandable outcome.

It’s how the rules have been reverse engineered and in truth, the Giants didn’t even get close to success last night.

Greene wasn’t contesting the ball at the moment of impact and that was the disqualifier… it didn’t matter whether his approach to the contest was reasonable, only what happened at the climax.

That’s easy enough for us to understand and recognise. The players are telling us they realise you have to have your eyes on the ball and you must contest either the mark or spoil.

It’s a clear expectation and that’s helpful.

I’m just not sure how practical that is at all times.

Notable in last night’s hearing was the prosecution contention that it was Greene’s obligation to “protect” Jordan Boyd as he came back with the flight of the ball.

Boyd couldn’t know what was coming so Greene had to “take proper care of him”.

Toby couldn’t grasp what the AFL representative was suggesting.

He had to protect or take proper care of Boyd. That’s a very serious tilting of the duty of care.

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Once a player runs with flight it’s entirely your obligation as the oncoming player to ensure you don’t injure him.

I’m not sure how practical that is.

Greene was clear and consistent in his evidence that he thought he was a good chance to mark the ball until the fraction of a second when he realised Boyd’s hands would touch it first.

He then turned and braced for impact.

Greene three times explained his protective action.

'If I go for the mark with my hands out and he tucks in because he’s going to take the mark I’m highly exposed front on - my face and chest and I’m in the vulnerable position because he’s going to get there fractionally before me so that’s when I changed my decision and braced to protect myself'.

But the game is insisting Greene ignore his better judgment and remain wide open and take his chances in the front on contact where he is fully exposed.

I pondered on Monday what Toby could have done to avoid suspension in the circumstances that presented.

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The answer was to risk injury.

Greene didn’t injure Boyd in the collision. But the only way to avoid suspension was to risk injuring himself.

Again, I’m not sure how practical that is.

The last element I thought was unfair was the judgment that Greene expressly conceded this was a bump.

He did no such thing.

The bump was never put to him.

In every instance, he described a brace to protect himself.

Had the proposition been put to him directly that he bumped Boyd, he would have vigorously denied it.

Last night’s judgment is understandable and useful but I don’t think it’s very practical or at least not practical in every instance. It’s vexed.

One close observer accurately noted: “Last night wasn’t about Toby so much as it was about the game itself and what expectations we should have of it”.

Greater Western Sydney

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