Toby Greene and his battered reputation flew back to Sydney on Wednesday to prepare for a confrontation with his coach and senior teammates who will determine the length of his suspension on Thursday.
The 20-year-old is expected to be punished on the grounds he was out late and drinking and because he failed to contact the club within an accepted timeframe after being arrested on a series of alcohol and violence-related charges.
The fact that he was drunk while injured and in fact was walking on a crutch will further determine the official framework for his suspension given the club must take care not to prejudice Greene’s legal battle come September. But the reality is that the Giants have no choice but to take a stand on the player whose tough background and previous behavioural issues suggest he remains a formidable project for the AFL’s youngest club.
Greene’s drunken arrest and battle with a bouncer comes as the club is struggling to establish itself in the game’s most unforgiving and unwelcoming market.
Within weeks, the AFL will roll out measures to bridge at least some of the gap between the powerful and weak clubs in a solution which would have been radical before it was weakened by the muscle of Collingwood, Hawthorn and West Coast.
Those wealthy clubs demanded the AFL should more generously contribute to the equalisation pool, a task made more difficult by the fact of the millions the league is pouring into GWS and the Gold Coast.
So all clubs in turn monitor more carefully the moves of the new teams and in Greene’s case only a multiple game suspension would seem acceptable.
It is not clear what message was delivered to Greene when he met on Tuesday night in Melbourne club officials Craig Lambert and Nick Johnston.
But Leon Cameron will be well aware of the message he needs to send Greene’s young team-mates – and the wider foootball community – when he sits in judgement on Greene with his six-man leadership group of Callan Ward, Phil Davis, Heath Shaw, Shane Mumford, Tom Scully and Stephen Gilham on Thursday.
Not that the wider political ramifications would have occurred to Greene when he chose to kick on at Zagame’s on Monday night after attending the Carlton-St Kilda game at Etihad with his mates.
But given his past and potential future a concerted attempt to rehabilitate Greene as well as punish him would prove effective not just in the context of club and competition but most crucially in the context of the player who seems destined to spend his 21st birthday in a Melbourne court.
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