With the club’s maiden finals campaign looming, GWS coach Leon Cameron says he welcomes the added pressure as his young side prepare for Saturday’s clash with an injury-depleted Fremantle.
The Giants find themselves outside the AFL’s top four, just two games from the finals, following last round’s last-gasp loss to West Coast.
Cameron says his players have responded well to the heartbreaking defeat but need to embrace the finals-like pressure they now find themselves under and learn from it.
“What I’m really pleased about though, is playing in games like last week and tomorrow – that will be an intense game. Hopefully that holds you in really good stead,” Cameron told reporters on Friday.
“We have to rebound and we have to win the game.”
The Giants face an undermanned Fremantle, with ruckman Aaron Sandilands re-joining an already extensive injury list including Nat Fyfe, Michael Johnson, Michael Barlow and Harley Bennell.
Club icon Matthew Pavlich will also be missing, with Fremantle confirming he’ll be rested for the clash ahead of his retirement at season’s end.
GWS have made two changes heading into the game at Spotless Stadium, where they have lost just twice this season.
Rebounding defender Nathan Wilson will return to the senior squad for his 50th AFL game, joining young midfielder Jacob Hopper, while Adam Kennedy and Matt Kennedy drop out.
Fremantle coach Ross Lyon said his relatively inexperienced team would use the next two games as a learning experience ahead of next season.
“We’ve only got two of our leadership group playing – we rebuild, replumb, restump, rewire,” Lyon said.
Having missed finals only once as a senior coach prior to 2016, Lyon knows better than most the nerves running through the Giant’s locker room.
“They’ll have one eye in the finals. They won’t want to get hurt but they’ve got to try and play fierce football,” he said.
“To keep players focused on the job at hand is really quite difficult because human nature dictates they’ll be looking ahead and making sure they get through and not miss out on their finals opportunities.”
Cameron acknowledged the challenge of keeping players focused so close to finals football, but said he and his team were ready for Saturday’s game.
“Sometimes players come in and don’t even worry about the finals hysteria that goes on and just play the game and obviously we’ve seen other times where players can come in and probably don’t deliver to the best of their ability,” Cameron said.
“But all I’m worried about is tomorrow’s contest.”