Greater Western Sydney youngster Jack Steele is one of two young debutants who will help plug the Giants’ major injury gap on Saturday against North Melbourne.
The 19-year-old midfielder from Canberra will replace midfielder Stephen Coniglio, ruled out for at least two weeks after sustaining a grade-two shoulder injury to his AC joint during Sunday’s 42-point loss to Collingwood.
Steele, the first player from the ACT to be drafted from the Giants’ academy, has been named as an emergency five times this AFL season and been pressing his claims with strong form for UWS Giants in the second-tier NEAFL.
“Jack will probably play forward and midfield as well; he’s been playing that role at NEAFL level,” coach Leon Cameron told the club’s website.
“He’s been playing some tough on-ball footy for probably six or eight weeks now.”
Joining Steele on debut will be 18-year-old defender Caleb Marchbank, who will slot into the Giants’ backline with co-captain Phil Davis (ankle) and Joel Patfull (ribs) both sidelined for up to two months following the weekend’s horror match.
Star ruckman Shane Mumford was ruled out on Tuesday for the rest of the season, putting massive doubt over the Giants’ hopes of a first finals campaign.
Mumford, who had been in career-best form, will have surgery later this week on his left ankle after suffering a torn deltoid ligament late in the Magpies game.
Cameron was philosophical on Wednesday about his fledgling team’s potentially disastrous injury toll.
“We’ve been pretty lucky so far. Unfortunately, sometimes when it does hit, it hits all at once,” he told Sky Sports radio.
“To lose key position players in the ruck and fullback and halfback, they’re very hard to replace.
“But in saying that, some young kids will get some opportunities over the next 10 or 12 weeks.”
Cameron said Mumford would be back ready to fire around November in time for the 2016 pre-season.