GWS coach Leon Cameron believes a bit of luck on the injury front is all co-captain Stephen Coniglio needs to have a significant impact on the AFL club’s fortunes this season.
A torrid run with ankle and toe injuries, as well as a dip in form, meant Coniglio played only 23 of a possible 41 games while serving as the Giants’ sole skipper over the past two years.
It was a factor in the club’s decision to lighten the load on the 28-year-old by appointing Josh Kelly and Toby Greene co-captains in a leadership trio with him for 2022.
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However, Cameron said it was not the major reason for the captaincy call, insisting the three-man group is where a football department and player vote landed.
Coniglio managed just seven games last year but has had a largely uninterrupted preparation for the new campaign and impressed during pre-season hit-outs.
It has laid the platform for a return to form when the Giants meet crosstown rivals Sydney at Accor Stadium in round one.
“(Coniglio) wants to play some really strong footy and he’s had a really good, strong pre-season,” Cameron told AAP.
“He’s done all the basic fundamental training; all the little drills on ground ball, handball, kicking, agility.
“That holds your body in good stead and he just needs a bit of luck with his ankle and his toe, which has been really good and really solid. No issues with that.
“He just needs a bit of luck with his body and if he can get that I’ve got great confidence he can play a really strong role for us.”
Coniglio will continue to be used predominantnly through the midfield, with increased time in attack when required.
His versatility will especially be called upon as the Giants look to cover Greene’s absence through suspension over the first five rounds.
Injuries to fellow small forward Brent Daniels (foot) and first-round draft pick Conor Stone (hamstring) have complicated the task.
“(Coniglio’s midfield-forward split) could go 50-50 at times because of his ability to be different and be that forward player out of the goal square or high half-forward,” Cameron said.
A refreshed Coniglio could just about act as a new recruit this season., while Cameron is also bullish about fellow senior players Callan Ward, Phil Davis and Kelly improving their output.
Pressure will also be on younger types Connor Idun, Tanner Bruhn, Tom Green and Lachie Ash to continue their development as the Giants seek to go deeper than last year’s semi-final appearance.
“All these guys are there to improve on their first, second or third years and that’s what is exciting for us,” Cameron said.
“As we know, nothing’s linear and you can always think that everything’s going rosy, but until you’re in the season you don’t know.
“But in terms of our confidence in those young players … I think there’s lots to like about our club.”