The AFL finals start now for Greater Western Sydney.
That’s the message GWS coach Leon Cameron is giving his players as the 10th-placed Giants chase a first-ever finals berth with four games remaining.
Two points outside the eight, the Giants go on the road to play Port Adelaide on Saturday and Cameron says losing is a luxury the expansion club can no longer afford.
“We’re going to play in finals every week now – we’re in the finals system right now,” said Cameron on Tuesday.
“We play a final this week against Port Adelaide, we’ve got a final next week against the Swans and so on.”
Cameron said his young club needed to “earn the right” to keep competing and give themselves a chance to crack the eight by season’s end.
“Did we predict we were going to be this close at the start of the year? Probably not,” he admitted.
“I think it’s fantastic that we now have an opportunity to win some more games and then, if you’re good enough, you’ll be in there.
“You end up where you end up.”
GWS head into their game in Adelaide with a midfield ravaged by injury, as Tom Scully, Adam Treloar and Stephen Coniglio join long-term absentee Dylan Shiel on the sidelines.
Scully is set to miss three weeks with a shoulder complaint while Coniglio is touch-and-go after his sickening clash with Essendon’s Adam Cooney on Sunday.
Matt Buntine will sit out the next fortnight at least after suffering a second concussion in three weeks against Fremantle.
“It’s a big challenge,” said Cameron.
“But it’s like anything, we feel as though when players have actually stepped in and taken their opportunity, because of either injury or good form, they’ve stood up to the mark.
“We play a tough, hard game of footy.”
One of the Giants’ few fit midfielders is Rhys Palmer, who returned to the run-on side in the win against Essendon after suffering a hamstring strain.
He said he was “bloody excited” to still be in the finals mix, and backed replacement midfielders to shine against Port.
“I saw Scully went down halfway through the game which is really disappointing, because he’s had a really good season for us,” he said.
“But in saying that, there’s also a lot of boys playing really good footy in the Twos, so if someone comes up, I’m sure they’ll do the job for us.”
On the flipside, the return of Jon Patton to attack means GWS are bursting at the seams with fit forwards.
When asked if Patton, Cam McCarthy, Rory Lobb and Jeremy Cameron could all fit in the same forward line, Cameron was unequivocal.
“When those four played together, we kicked eight or nine goals (last week),” he said.
“So we looked our most dangerous when the four of them were together – so no doubt the synergy and that energy between them can work.”