Victim Neale could be Greene’s saviour
THE Brisbane Lions could have taken an eye for an eye with Toby Greene, but instead they may take the stand and pledge it was a nose.
GWS Giants have been considering calling Lions ace Lachie Neale as a star witness for Tuesday night's all-or-nothing tribunal hearing in Melbourne as they fight to free Greene for Saturday's preliminary final against Collingwood.
The AFL's match review officer Michael Christian was rumoured to be frustrated the tribunal allowed Greene to face Brisbane last week after he was referred straight to the panel for roughing up the face of Marcus Bontempelli.
But rather than holding a grudge against a man whose questionable clearance to play last Saturday was arguably the difference in the Lions crashing out, Brisbane have broken their silence to dispute the latest accusation from Christian that Greene had deliberately targeted Neale's eye.
Lions coach Chris Fagan gave the GWS defence team a significant loophole to exploit on Monday, revealing it was Neale's nose and not eye that had been hit. It's not beyond the realms that GWS could ask Neale or Brisbane to officially give evidence tonight.
"He (Neale) felt contact. He had no idea who it was," Fagan said.
"It wasn't enough to stop him from playing on. It just caused him a little bit of disturbance for a few seconds and he dusted it off and kept going.
"It wasn't in the eyes. It was more to the nose was what he said to me yesterday."
This could prove a turning point in the case, given the AFL were so specific in charging Greene with unreasonable or unnecessary contact to the eye region of Neale.
There is a general code that says players will support each other at the tribunal - the Giants' Adam Kennedy did it for Richmond's Dustin Martin earlier in the year.
But it's unknown to what extent Neale would be willing to contribute - if asked - given Brisbane might be in Mad Monday mode.
Another avenue for the Giants would be to try and challenge the grading of intentional down to careless, but it's understood the AFL may allege there is footage which shows Greene looking around for the umpire before going in for the contact.
GWS players are confident Greene will escape for the second straight week without a suspension and take his place in the biggest game of his life in front of 80,000 plus Collingwood supporters.
"We're confident we can get a good result from that but for now, I'm not going to make any more comments on it," said star teammate, Josh Kelly.
"I think he apologised for what he did last week but this week is a different case.
"Toby's been our spirit leader this year as we've lost a few players the back end of the season. He's gone into the midfield and he's really led our team well and the way he's playing on the edge at the moment, it's good for us.
"Last week he obviously understands he did something wrong but he's apologised and we enjoy running out alongside him because we know we're going to get 110 per cent effort from him."
Giants coach Leon Cameron stressed the Bontempelli and Neale incidents must be treated as completely separate events.
"Last week Toby went to the tribunal and apologised for what happened. This week we will go to the tribunal again and defend Toby," Cameron said.
"It is a totally different incident and it needs to be treated on its merits - and that's all I can comment on because we are going to the tribunal."