Coniglio back for Giants' crunch AFL clash

GWS have recalled captain Stephen Coniglio and forward Jake Riccardi as they hunt a final-round victory over St Kilda to stay in the mix for the AFL finals.

NICK HAYNES.
NICK HAYNES. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

Star midfielders Stephen Coniglio and Dan Hannebery have been recalled as Greater Western Sydney attempt to upset St Kilda and sneak into the AFL finals.

Coniglio, who last week became the first AFL captain to be dropped in 22 years, has been rushed back after missing one game.

The Giants have recalled Coniglio and Jake Riccardi in place of Harry Himmelberg and Adam Kennedy, who have both been dumped.

The Saints have called up Hannebery, who hasn't played since July 2 because of a hamstring surgery, and Jake Carlisle in place of Nick Hind (omitted) and Zak Jones (hamstring).

The Giants' run of four consecutive finals series will end on Friday night unless they win at the Gabba.

The expansion club will then only stay in the top eight if Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs both lose in the final round, unless they record a particularly resounding victory over the Saints.

GWS coach Leon Cameron had come under intense scrutiny after axing Coniglio for last Saturday's must-win match against the Demons.

"We understand it was a big decision last week," Cameron said.

"But he's freshened up, trained really well and is looking forward to playing the footy we know he can."

Intercept defender Nick Haynes defended his coach, who has been a lightning rod for criticism during an underwhelming season.

"The playing group needs to take responsibility. We haven't gelled as a complete unit," Haynes said.

Haynes also backed Coniglio to lead from the front.

"He's a class person and a class leader. Even though his form has been down, he's still been leading us phenomenally," he said.

The fact that last year's grand finalists are in such a precarious position says plenty about their inconsistent campaign.

Haynes, who has been one of the Giants' best throughout 2020 despite regularly finding himself under siege, suggested it was pointless stewing over their finals equation.

"Because once you do that then you're going away from your own game," Haynes said.

"We're worried about how we're going to play and how we're going to beat St Kilda... If this is our last game of the year then we want to finish on a high."

Haynes dismissed the notion that a sputtering end to the season could influence decisions made by Jeremy Cameron, Zac Williams and other out-of-contract teammates.

"They have all been here long enough to know what we stand for, what our club is built on," the foundation Giants player said.

"They will reflect on that while making a decision, not just this week."