Toby Greene told teammates he accepts he needs to change his ways on the field during an emotional apology before Greater Western Sydney’s elimination from the premiership race.
The Giants have no issues with their vice-captain maintaining the edge that makes him one of the elite players in the competition but both the club and player realise the gravity of Greene’s bump on the umpire.
In a heartfelt address to his peers, the foundation Giant acknowledged he must not put himself into a similar position with an umpire, according to a source familiar with the situation.
It’s unclear if this means a halt to all conversations with umpires, including the pre-match chats he holds with officials with whom he is familiar such as Matt Stevic, the whistleblower who through no fault of his own was at the centre of the drama involving Greene last week.
A contrite Greene remained with the squad through the week, even captaining the staff team in a soccer game on Friday before the game.
Out on the field where it mattered most, the Giants sorely missed Greene, crowned All Australian for the second time this year, in their semi-final defeat to Geelong on Friday night. With Jesse Hogan a late withdrawal, the Giants forward line lacked bite.
A remorseful Toby Greene apologised to his teammates for his bump on umpire Matt Stevic, which resulted in a season-ending suspension.Credit:Getty Images
“In terms of his apology, absolutely, he’s in front of the group, and clearly remorseful throughout the week,” Giants coach Leon Cameron said.
“It was an emotional 10 or 15 minutes in front of our entire group throughout the week. We’re not going to be a club that’s going to shy away from things. We need to work out the rights and the wrongs, and we got it wrong last weekend, and he puts his hand up.
“Equally, I said through the week you don’t give up on these players because they’re like your children. Sometimes your kids do some things wrong in life. They need to learn from it and move on. He’s been a wonderful player for us, and I’m really confident we’ll work through some of those challenges in the pre-season.”
Greene will miss at least the first two games of the 2022 season, perhaps more if the AFL is successful in its attempt to extend his suspension.
Captain Stephen Coniglio is another senior Giant under the microscope in the off-season. Dropped in his first season in charge, Coniglio endured another troubled campaign in 2021, with serious ankle and toe injuries limiting him to just seven games.
Off a compromised preparation, he struggled in the finals, restricted to just 14 disposals against the Cats after 11 the previous week against Sydney.
Brisbane great Jonathan Brown has called for Coniglio to give up the captaincy while St Kilda’s longest-serving skipper Nick Riewoldt said the Giant was uncomfortable with the role.
Coniglio has been linked with a move back home to Perth with Fremantle, but those close to him do not believe a change of clubs is on his agenda.
The futures of both Toby Greene and Stephen Coniglio are in the spotlight.Credit:Getty
After losing Jeremy Cameron, Zac Williams and Aidan Corr in a tumultuous off-season last year, the Giants are set for a quieter trade and player exchange period.
Jacob Hopper remains unsigned, but the Giants are confident the midfield bull and graduate from their academy program will stay. Veteran Phil Davis is expected to wear the “G” for an 11th season after a campaign marred by injury. Ruckman Shane Mumford will almost certainly retire.
The Giants endured a torrid season in which they were forced on the road for 10 weeks due to Sydney’s COVID-19 crisis and hit hard again by injuries, but recovered from a 0-3 start to make their fifth finals series in six years.
They hold a strong hand in this year’s draft with two selections in the first round, including the No.2 pick they secured from Collingwood last year as part of a future pick swap.
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