He won’t turn 30 until the final days of 2023, but Toby Greene is feeling old.
It happens for most in life, but when there’s an explosion of youth and change in your workplace like there has been at the Giants in the last six months, that feeling can hit home with added bite.
“I’m a year older and we’ve brought in five or six 18 year old’s, so you automatically feel a little bit older and more experienced, that’s for sure,” Greene told foxfooty.com.au, just a day before he was officially announced as the club’s sole captain for 2023.
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“I guess there’s growth for anybody that’s been in the league a long time, but I sort of came from a long way back with regards to leadership and things like that.
“It’s been a huge work in progress and still is, but I’m really enjoying it and I’m working with a great bunch of guys and forming a strong relationship with ‘Kingers’ (new senior coach Adam Kingsley) as well.
“It’s something I’ve just got to keep working on, keep putting a lot of time and effort into it and evolve from there.”
Rather than baulk at change, Greene seems to be embracing it as he prepares for the 2023 season.
Eight players departed at the end of last season, but the real change came off-field, with Leon Cameron no longer at the helm after nine years and coaching turnover taking place around him, headlined by the appointment of Adam Kingsley.
It was a procession of change, but one Greene can understand given the side’s trajectory in recent years.
“We probably hadn’t been going too great for a couple of years to be honest,” Greene admits.
“We won a final the year before but we sort of just got there … it was probably the little reset we needed and a bit of a wake up call as well.”
Coaching change can sometimes not be enough to lead to true club change, but it seems that is not the case when it comes to the arrival of Kinglsey and company.
“It’s completely different. He’s brought in a lot of new stuff, a new game plan, new coaches as well around him,” Greene said.
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“It’s all very different at the moment. We’re sort of taking our time with match play, getting into it now, learning a lot of new stuff on the run.
“He’s been awesome, he’s brought in a lot of fresh ideas, fresh game plan, fresh set of values, things like that. It’s been a good energy around the club.”
While most of the change came off-field, some of it came on-field too, headlined by the departures of Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper.
While the club’s powers that be were open to a reset of sorts with the arrival of Kingsley, losing both Taranto and Hopper was something that ideally could’ve been avoided.
“You had a good idea you’d probably lose one of those guys, but we probably didn’t expect to lose both,” Greene said.
“It is what it is, they made their decision, that’s fine. It gives some fresh opportunity to guys like Tom Green, he’s flying at the moment so watch out of him this year.
“It’s disappointing to lose both of those guys, but that’s footy. We’re doing everything we can with who we’ve got on the list at the moment.”
Greene stressed the Giants “don’t hold anything against them or Richmond”, which perhaps is due to the amount of veteran and young talent the club still has on its list.
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Former captain Stephen Coniglio returned to form under caretaker coach Mark McVeigh last season, while Josh Kelly enjoyed another solid season.
The midfield core runs deeper than those two, however, with any ideas of a Greene return to the midfield quickly dismissed by the man himself.
“I’ll spend 90 to 95 per cent of my time forward, my midfield days are done,” he said.
“When you’ve got young guys like Finn Callaghan, Tom Green, even guys like Xavier O’Halloran playing a bit through there along with ‘Cogs’ (Coniglio) and ‘Chook’ (Kelly), there’s certainly no need for me to go in there.
“I love working with a good forward line group at the moment.”
Green, in particular, could be one to watch out for in 2023, with Greene declaring he could become “a bona fide A-grade midfielder”.
“He’s been tearing apart pre-season and hopefully can transfer that into 22 weeks.”
Given the Giants boast an experienced core but a heap of young talent, expectations can be hard to gauge.
A dip was perhaps expected in 2022, but a 16th-placed finish certainly wasn’t.
How high the ceiling is in 2023 isn’t a point of focus for the Giants or for Greene, but he has a pretty clear idea of where the marker is.
“To be honest, we haven’t talked about it (expectations for 2023) once yet, but that’s what I’ll be trying to do (play finals),” he said.
“I don’t want to be on holidays in September.”
Story Credit: foxsports.com.au