Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron expects nerves, but is adamant his young side won’t be unnerved when they seek to secure a spot in the AFL grand final.
There are a handful of issues that will decide Saturday’s preliminary final between GWS and Western Bulldogs at Spotless Stadium.
How will the Giants fare without Steve Johnson and can the Bulldogs cover Matt Suckling?
Will GWS be impacted negatively by the fact they’ve played one game in almost a month?
But in terms of the mettle of GWS’s inexperienced charges, most of which are in the midst of their maiden finals campaign, Cameron feels they’ve already given an answer.
The Giants could hardly have handled the club’s finals debut better, comfortably accounting for Sydney in a qualifying final.
Cameron is confident his team won’t be overawed by the carrot of a grand final berth as the league’s latest rivalry heats up.
“When they go to bed tonight there will be a few nerves,” Cameron said on Friday.
“They’ll wake up tomorrow morning and no doubt there will be some nerves. They’ve just got to understand they can’t play the game in their heads three or four times before they get to the ground.
“We’re confident they showed that two weeks ago against the Swans in their first final.
“They’re confident kids. Sorry, I shouldn’t say kids because they’ve grown up now.”
The Giants have showed many times throughout their fifth season in the competition they won’t be pushed around.
There have been numerous club firsts and coming-of-age wins this year but the Giants crave the premiership that will show they’ve truly arrived.
“We know we’re a young club in its infant stage, we’re starting to grow up,” Cameron said.
“This is really what you want … we’re really confident. They’re really confident, so it’s going to be a great spectacle.”
Cameron, GWS co-captain Callan Ward and midfielder Ryan Griffen all started their careers at Whitten Oval, making for a clear narrative any time the sides clashed.
But the burgeoning rivalry has come to life this week. They are two youthful teams in a hurry and it wouldn’t surprise if they regularly meet during September in the next few years.
“We’ll butt heads tomorrow. Both sides will crack in, run really hard and play an exciting brand of footy when the opposition allows them to,” Cameron said.
“They’ve got a really good list in terms of depth, so have we. We won the NEAFL grand final. The Bulldogs’ reserves are in the grand final.
“There’s some good history, good rivalry building between these two young sides. It looks like it’s going to be around for the next five or 10 years.”
Rhys Palmer comes into the side following Johnson’s one-game ban, with Cameron calling on all 22 players to supply the spark usually provided by the former Geelong star. “He’s obviously a very, very good player. You can’t replace like for like,” Cameron said.
“Collectively we expect to lose nothing. We don’t need any one person to stand up and say ‘I have to be exceptional’.”