Coniglio hasn’t given up on finals
STEPHEN Coniglio has unfinished business this season and the sight of him sweating buckets on the track has his teammates determined to give him every chance to play his part in the push for a first flag.
The star midfielder won't make it in time for Saturday's elimination final against the Western Bulldogs but the man who last week became a Giant for life is leaving no stone unturned in his quest to return.
The club's injury report reads "1-2 weeks" for Coniglio and the 25-year-old spent Tuesday's training session doing a mixture of straight-line running and stationary kicks.
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A recent visit to his knee surgeon revealed some bone bruising, so the Giants have eased him back slightly.
But Giants coach Leon Cameron, while unwilling to take any risks with his star, is not talking like a man who already has Coniglio packed away for the summer break, only to be unwrapped again when the players report back for pre-season.
"If we happen to go deeper into September, then he's definitely a chance to play," Cameron said.
"He did a really good running session today. But we've got to be mindful Cogs is here for the next seven or eight years of AFL footy and we don't want to push that issue if we don't think he's ready to play."
Coniglio's teammate Jacob Hopper, who returns for this weekend's clash after injury, said: "We'd love to have him out there but we'll just keep winning games and hopefully give him every chance.
"It's huge (his re-signing). To be able to celebrate that as an entire GWS Giants group was enormous for us. There's no doubt there's been a real lift among the group."
While Coniglio must rely on his teammates beating the Bulldogs to keep his season alive, optimism is growing that Nick Haynes could get the all clear to play as he recovers from a throat fracture.
Cameron said Haynes would need to be "95 per cent" to play but Giants general manager of football Wayne Campbell said: "He's seen the specialist a couple of times and he's ticked him off to get into some more training and a bit of contact work.
"He did a little bit today, this morning, but will need to train fully tomorrow in our main session.
"If he gets through that and does the contact and the doctors rule him in, then he'll be available to play."
Brett Deledio and Toby Greene are also expected to return after calf issues.
"Finals footy is a different season," Cameron said.
"Our players have lots of energy. We've got 40 players to pick from. We haven't had that for most of the year. That's great and means the pressure's on for spots.
Matt De Boer's role as a tagger looks key and he is likely to be tasked with keeping the Dogs' Marcus Bontempelli quiet. But de Boer's the man, insists Hopper.
"The human clamp, I like to call him," he said.
"He just loves getting any assignment, the type of person he is. But I feel sorry for whoever he does get because I'd hate it."
Win or lose, Giants director Jimmy Bartel has flagged an end-of-season football department review.
Cameron expects nothing less.
"We have a review every year," he said.
"Every year you review footy, you review your coaching, you review high performance, you review all parts of your footy club.
"If any club's not doing that it would be the wrong thing to do. There's nothing new about that."