When Toby met Trent: New Giants captain seeks champion Tiger’s advice

Key points

  • Newly appointed Giants captain Toby Greene met with ex-Richmond captain Trent Cotchin.
  • Cotchin captained the Tigers during their run of three flags in four seasons.
  • Greene admits he has come a long way as a leader and person since his early years in the AFL.

New Giants standalone captain Toby Greene’s wish to become the best leader he can be saw him turn to Richmond’s triple premiership ex-captain Trent Cotchin for advice this week.

The brilliant forward, a co-captain alongside Stephen Coniglio and Josh Kelly last year, scored the job outright in February, after Leon Cameron’s coaching successor, Adam Kingsley, made clear his preference for one person to hold the role.

Toby Greene (left) shared the Giants’ captaincy with Stephen Coniglio and Josh Kelly last year.Credit:Phil Hillyard

Other senior Giants were of the same belief as Kingsley that a solo skipper would be simpler, with Greene emerging as the best candidate.

He promised at the time of his appointment to put “all my time and effort into doing the best job I can”.

Cotchin is someone Greene has admired mostly from afar but the Greater Western Sydney star contacted the veteran Tiger in recent weeks about catching up – and they met for lunch in Melbourne on Monday.

The specifics of the chat are likely to remain a secret, but Greene was keen to pick Cotchin’s brain on being a standalone AFL captain and the challenges involved, including juggling extra responsibilities while still maximising himself as a footballer.

Cotchin’s peers voted him the AFL’s best captain in 2018, and he resigned from the role at the end of the 2021 season after nine years and 188 games in charge.

One of the most famous memories associated with Cotchin’s leadership, aside from his significant on-field exploits, was him being the last player to leave the MCG after the 2017 grand final because he stayed back to clean up rubbish left in the Richmond change rooms.

It was those types of actions, plus his Brownlow Medal-winning output, empathy, selflessness and ruthlessness that made him one of the best captains of his generation.

Trent Cotchin, pictured left with Kane Lambert after Richmond’s 2020 grand final win, was a revered captain.Credit:Getty Images

Greene has courted far more controversy on and off the field throughout his career than Cotchin, whose clean-cut, family image contrasts somewhat with the more rough-and-ready but popular and hugely respected Giant. They have also enjoyed wildly different fates with the match review officer and at the tribunal.

Greene admits he was not leadership material in his early years as an AFL footballer, but his ascending on-field presence and off-field maturity – while learning from the likes of Phil Davis and Callan Ward – rounded him into his present self.

He previously struggled at times to maintain eye contact in media appearances but now speaks with more confidence and comfort in those situations, even if he will never be as polished as a Cotchin-type.

Greene’s Pied Piper impact as the Giants’ most outstanding and inspiring footballer is the reason many commentators across the industry long called for him to take over from Coniglio, who took on the captaincy ahead of the 2020 season.

The 28-year-old, an Oakleigh Chargers and Wesley College graduate, excelled as an acting captain in Coniglio’s injury absence in 2021 before becoming a co-captain last season and now the outright leader.

“It’s a huge honour,” Greene said in mid-February of his captaincy elevation.

“I’ve come a long way, and it took a long time, but I’ve done a lot of work on my leadership skills. As a young kid, I was probably nowhere near it and was trying to find my way in AFL footy, but I’m in my 12th season now, and I’ve been here since the start.

“It’s a massive honour, and I’ll be certainly putting all my time and effort into doing the best job I can.”

There is sweeping change underway at GWS, but Kingsley wants to reignite the club’s feared ‘Orange Tsunami’ reputation, starting with a ferocious defensive style that Greene has already spoken glowingly about.

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