GWS admit there is simply no like-for-like replacement for Lachie Whitfield, who will miss at least a month of AFL because of a broken collarbone.
Whitfield, who was part of the 2018 All-Australian team and is among the Giants’ best players, underwent surgery on Monday night following a painful collision with Gold Coast’s David Swallow last Saturday.
The club was initially upbeat the hard-running winger avoided a serious setback but scans confirmed otherwise.
Coach Leon Cameron is confident the star’s stint on the sidelines, set to last until at least a round 15 clash with Essendon, will not stop GWS’s positive start to the season.
The Giants, who sit second on the ladder with an 8-3 record, expect to regain injured defenders Zac Williams and Sam Taylor for Saturday night’s match against Adelaide at Adelaide Oval.
Cameron is upbeat Toby Greene, who sat out the fourth quarter against the Suns because of a sore knee, will make the trip but admitted Whitfield’s absence will be a blow.
“It’s disappointing. He’s been playing some really good footy,” Cameron said of Whitfield, who also missed rounds seven and eight because of a hip injury.
“He’s very tough for his build … he wanted to get back out there (after breaking his collarbone).
“He’s an elite runner, elite playmaker.
“No side can replace, like for like, when one of your A-graders go down but in saying that … there’s players ready to put their hand up.”
Cameron nominated Daniel Lloyd, Zac Langdon, Dylan Buckley, Jackson Hately and Aiden Bonar as some of the Giants to have recently excelled in the NEAFL.
Williams will return from a hamstring injury this weekend but Cameron suggested he is unlikely to shift the rebounding defender into Whitfield’s position.
Cameron expected Greene would tackle the Crows but provided the caveat that “if he is not 100 per cent right, we won’t push him”.
GWS, who endured an injury crisis in 2018 that threatened to derail their season, have adopted a more conservative approach to injuries this year.
“We thought we did 90-95 per cent right and just probably one or two players we probably could have done a little bit better with,” Cameron said.
“It’s going pretty well at the moment.
“But each week is different. You can be on top of the world, have 42 or 43 to pick from, then you blink and five or six are out.”
The Giants have a further two games to play before their mid-season bye.
Cameron does not intend to rest veterans Shane Mumford and Brett Deledio before the bye.
© AAP 2019