Greater Western Sydney’s finals push may have come to a disappointing end in last week’s AFL Sydney derby, but coach Leon Cameron says his side’s tepid performance won’t be repeated against an improving Carlton.
The Giants were thrashed by 89 points at Spotless Stadium on Saturday, mathematically ruling them out of a maiden finals berth and offering local bragging rights to the Swans for the seventh time in eight matches.
GWS will face a Blues side boosted by the announcement of Brendon Bolton as new head coach, and Cameron said he wants a return to competitiveness after a lacklustre derby performance.
“We know the boys are hurting and disappointed, because we let a lot of people down,” said Cameron.
“But we’ll honour that spirited effort that’s been there most of the year.
“We’ve got to make sure we finish in the right manner, and deal with just this Saturday.”
Co-captain Callan Ward said the magnitude of Saturday’s defeat was still hard to digest, as the players ruminate on an opportunity missed.
“It’s always hard to find answers, especially after a game like that,” said the 25-year-old.
“I guess the main thing is that we’re just not winning that hard contested ball and our energy definitely wasn’t there.
“It was open and honest on Monday with the meetings and reviews, the coach was pretty hard on us, which is good.
“I think it’s really important after a huge loss like that, with so much on the line, to really be open and up-front and honest with each other, and I think we had that.”
For the Giants, Matt Buntine and Devon Smith look set to return from injuries for the Blues clash, while forward Will Hoskin-Elliott is expected to miss out with a hamstring issue.
One of GWS’ strongest performers in the derby thrashing was defender Heath Shaw, earning 32 possessions and 12 rebound 50s to continue his strong 2015 form.
As whispers of an All-Australian call up grow louder, Cameron said the ex-Collingwood man was deserving of the accolade.
“He’s been our best defender in terms of stopping his man, he plays on all the really good small-to-medium forwards, he gets the job done and he also gets the footy, so we couldn’t be happier with him,” he said.
“He’s been our most consistent performer.”
Ward echoed his coach’s sentiment.
“To have him in our team is great, I’d actually hate to play against him,” he said.
“I hope he’s All-Australian. If you ask me, I think he definitely is – he’s been terrific for us.”