Compared To The NRL, Is The AFL Too Soft On Facial Contact?
GWS Giants forward Toby Greene can consider himself lucky. Very lucky.
After giving Bulldogs champ Marcus Bontempelli a lovely free facial -- how very thoughtful -- in the elimination final against the Western Bulldogs last weekend, Greene was fined $7,500 for serious misconduct.
Greene was not, however, suspended, and thus will be free to face the Brisbane Lions this weekend.
Which begs the question: was the AFL Tribunal's penalty harsh enough?
In the NRL, the judiciary is much tougher on players who deliberately make contact with the face of an opponent.
Earlier this year, South Sydney Rabbitoh George Burgess served nine weeks for an eye gouge, while last night, the judiciary outed Canberra Raider Hudson Young for eight weeks for this face full of fingers.
Yep, as commentator and former Canberra Raider Brett Finch alluded, it was not a good look. And for 21-year-old Young, it's now bye-bye finals. Which is a shame for both him and his team, as the Raiders appear to have a real chance this year.
Now it’s important to note that we’re not comparing “Greene apples” with “Greene apples” here.
The NRL players were specifically charged with dangerous contact to the eyes, while Toby Greene was charged with the more amorphous "serious misconduct".
But the incidents across the two codes were similarly distasteful. In both cases, the offending player's hand could be seen on their opponent's face, and everyone knows you don’t mess with another player’s face in any sport.
That's why it's easy to argue that the NRL has got its punishments right.
Greene is a serial offender when it comes to rough play. It's safe to assume he never schedules much on a Tuesday evening, because that's AFL Tribunal night, and Greene has now been to the Tribunal 17 times -- which is a lot for anyone, but ESPECIALLY a 25-year-old player.
Yet the AFL Tribunal doesn't take into account a player's past record, so here we are. Greene will play on in 2019. Fined for serious misconduct, but still free to play.
At this time of year, premierships are on the line. Players want to play footy more than anything. Fines don’t mean as much.
Toby Greene won't enjoy being $7,500 out of pocket but he would have enjoyed missing this weekend's final less.
As for Canberra Raider Hudson Young, well, you'd have to think he'll learn his lesson now that he'll be sidelined for the finals, plus four weeks of the new season.
Will Greene learn? Who knows?