Coach backs GWS youth after prelim loss

Greater Western Sydney have all the pieces of their AFL premiership puzzle despite their preliminary final loss, according to coach Leon Cameron.

The Giants trailed Richmond by just one point at halftime at the MCG, but couldn’t go with the Tigers in the third quarter and fell to a 15.13 (103) to 9.13 (67) loss.

It followed last year’s preliminary final defeat to the Western Bulldogs.

GWS have added veterans like Steve Johnson, Ryan Griffen and Brett Deledio in recent years to complement a list loaded with first-round draft picks.

But Cameron flagged a departure from that strategy and a focus on internal development after Saturday’s loss.

“I don’t think so,” he said when asked if the Giants would be in the market for veteran help during AFL trade period.

“I think we’ve done it really well in the last couple of years … (those veterans) have all had massive impacts on our footy club on and off the field.

“But I think we’re in a pretty good spot for us to develop our list.”

Griffen and Deledio managed just 10 games between them this season thanks to ankle and calf injuries respectively but Cameron is confident they still have plenty to offer.

“Griffen has just had a wretched year with injury but I expect him to bounce back and Deledio (the same),” he said.

“They’ve got some really good footy ahead of them, I think.

“So I don’t think there’s a need to go and grab another (experienced) player but in saying that trade period is a funny period – we all know that.”

Johnson didn’t feature prominently in his last AFL game before retirement.

He was left out of the Giants’ opening finals loss to Adelaide due to a knee injury and form concerns but kicked six goals in his return against West Coast last week.

The decision to stick with the former Geelong premiership star over Devon Smith was a talking point in the lead-up to the clash, but Cameron defended his selection.

“People are always going to judge him … but we didn’t get beaten because Steve Johnson’s knee might have been at 90 per cent,” he said.

“He’s a triple-premiership player who wanted to come to our club to see if he could help us take the next step.

“Clearly he’s been hampered by his body over the last year but we like his spirit and that’s rubbed off on our players.”

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