Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron says Stephen Coniglio will get better each week this AFL season, having praised his captain’s “good, solid performance” in round one.
Coniglio finished with 24 disposals, five clearances and a goal in Sunday’s eight-point loss to St Kilda at Giants Stadium.
The star midfielder went head to head with opposing skipper Jack Steele for much of the match, while he also spent some time in the forward line.
Coniglio became the first AFL captain in 22 years to be dropped during 2020, which marked a low point of the club’s disappointing season.
Cameron, having previously spruiked Coniglio’s capacity to bounce back this year plus the hard work he’d done on the track throughout recent months, was impressed with his leader’s output against the Saints.
“It was pleasing. There’s no doubt, not a lot went right for us last year. That’s not his fault, that’s our entire club’s fault,” Cameron said.
“He responded in a really good way. He was on the front foot in the first half … it was a good, solid performance.
“He’s working extremely hard on his game. Each week he gets to play and be captain at our footy club, he’s going to get better and better and better.
“He will come up against some great mids and test himself out. I’d like to think by the end of the year, we’re talking about Cogs as a very, very good mid as well.”
Cameron flagged that Coniglio would continue to split his time between GWS’s engine room and forward line.
“His pressure was there, he had some big tackles in our front half,” he said.
Meanwhile, prized recruit Jesse Hogan won’t be ready to return from his quad injury for the Giants’ round-two clash with Fremantle in Perth.
However, small forward Brent Daniels (hamstring) is in the mix to face the Dockers.
Cameron admitted the synergy of his new-look forward line was up and down, but applauded Harry Himmelberg’s three-goal effort in wet conditions.
“He’s disappointed he missed that vital goal (in the fourth quarter),” Cameron said.
“But if that drives him to become the player that we expect him to become, that’s only a good thing.”