Giants firebrand Toby Greene has vowed to keep playing his natural game despite a growing reputation as the AFL’s bad boy, but said he’s learned harsh lessons this season about what’s acceptable on the field.
Speaking for the first time since he was fined for booting Western Bulldog Luke Dahlhaus in the face this month, Greene stressed he would not be changing his style on the eve of the club’s second AFL finals appearance.
The Giants’ travel to face minor premiers Adelaide next weekend in a bid to make their second-straight preliminary final.
Greene escaped with a fine from the match review panel after the Dahlhaus incident, avoiding a third suspension for the year when his raised boot struck the Bulldogs livewire in the face as Greene reeled in a handball.
“I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the Dahlhaus thing, if your eyes are on the footy, I thought you’re entitled to do what you want to protect yourself, that was my thoughts on it,” Greene said.
“Obviously it copped a lot of media speculation. That’s a natural reaction of mine to protect myself when I go for marks, that’s all I thought it was.
“It’s unfortunate that he got hit in the head but I obviously didn’t mean to kick him in the head.
“I can’t guarantee in my next marking contest I won’t protect myself with my knee. That’s just how I play footy and from what I’m aware of you’re allowed to do it.”
The Dahlhaus incident was the latest in a chequered season for Greene, who has been named in the AFL’s 40-man All n shortlist.
In round six against the Bulldogs he copped two weeks for striking Caleb Daniel in the mouth and was suspended for another fortnight in round 18 after a jumper punch on Richmond’s Alex Rance.
Greene hoped the Rance incident, where he sought out the Richmond fullback who moments earlier had given away a free kick for flooring Steve Johnson, was the turning point of his on-field discipline.
“I’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen again. I don’t think my actual playing footy, I don’t need to change anything,” Greene said.
“The Rance thing was just stupid and that was probably a line in the sand, hopefully. You just can’t do anything off the ball these days.
“In the back of my mind I’m a lot more aware of it. If people are going to come after me and niggle me, it’s about just being cool, you can’t really do anything these days so there’s no real point.
“That’s just footy. If you’ve got a defender playing on you it’s all part of it.”
Greene has become a punching bag for opposition fans this year and was the subject of frequent heckling from the Geelong crowd in Saturday’s 44-point loss to the Cats.
He was also heavily targeted at Etihad Stadium two weeks prior against the Bulldogs, particularly after the Dahlhaus incident.
“The Cats crowd were all right, I actually didn’t notice it too much compared to the Bulldogs game,” Greene said.
“It’s all part of it, that’s footy, it is what it is. I’ve got a few notes to myself that keep me checked in. I guess you feed off the noise but I don’t take anything in that gets said.”