There are going to be a few unlucky youngsters at Great Western Sydney this weekend, but Cam McCarthy won’t be among them.
Coach Leon Cameron on Thursday confirmed the 20-year-old will play in Sunday’s round-one clash with St Kilda at Etihad Stadium after a standout pre-season.
McCarthy debuted for the club as a substitute in the Giants’ final match of 2014, booting a goal with his first kick in their win over the Western Bulldogs.
He’s continued his form into this year in the NAB Challenge and now has the chance to secure a spot in the forward line with Jonathan Patton (knee) out until at least round 11.
“He’s been fantastic in his three (pre-season) games and he’s taken his opportunity,” Cameron said.
“His last game was as a sub against the Dogs last year in round 23 … so we look forward to see what Cam can form with Jeremy (Cameron), Adam Tomlinson, possibly James Stewart, Rhys Palmer and Devon Smith.”
Star ruckman Shane Mumford said McCarthy had, in a way, “come out of nowhere”.
“We’ve got so many more blokes fighting for spots this year and he’s one of them,” Mumford told AAP.
“The way he played in pre-season, he gives you what you want and what you need.
“He’s always there when you need to hit the lead-up and he can take the marks down forward as well – he’s got a great leap and good hands on him.
“Hopefully he’ll be able to continue his good form this week.”
While McCarthy is a certainty, the last few places in the 22 are still up for grabs – “and there’ll be some unlucky lads that are not playing”, Cameron said.
The arrival of Joel Patfull in a back-line already boasting Phil Davis and Heath Shaw has the coach believing the Giants are a chance of playing finals footy for the first time.
“Our most experienced line is our defence now,” he said.
Bookmakers have the Giants as favourites against the Saints, whom they’ve never beaten, but Cameron has labelled it a “50/50 game”.
“Round one games are extremely hard to win, but we come in with confidence.”