GWS have sensationally dropped captain Stephen Coniglio for Saturday night’s crunch AFL clash with Melbourne.
Coniglio was appointed skipper in the aftermath of the Giants’ loss in the 2019 grand final.
The promotion came after the star midfielder turned down several suitors to sign a seven-year contract extension with the expansion club.
Coniglio’s leadership and patchy form has been a talking point throughout an underwhelming 2020 for GWS, who are currently clinging to eighth spot on the ladder.
The Giants, whose run of four consecutive finals appearances is at risk of ending, have made the huge call to dump their captain after a shock loss to last-placed Adelaide.
GWS coach Leon Cameron told players on Friday morning that Coniglio will not run out at the Gabba this weekend.
Cameron noted it was simply a matter of picking the best possible team for a high-stakes game against 10th-placed Melbourne that he has dubbed the Giants’ “first final”.
All parties were keen to call a spade a spade, rather than try to pretend Coniglio had been managed or rested.
The Giants are yet to decide who will lead the team this weekend.
Matt de Boer, who will notch his 200th game when GWS face the Demons, and Toby Greene, who performed the role of caretaker captain last year when Phil Davis and Callan Ward were both unavailable, are the most likely contenders.
GWS football manager Jason McCartney confirmed Coniglio’s omission, noting “Stephen is the first to admit his form hasn’t been where he’d like it to be”.
“We see this as a speed bump in the road. He’s a quality man and he’ll bounce back,” McCartney said in a statement.
“It’s a sign of a strong football club that if people don’t perform at all levels, you need to have hard conversations.
“He’s an A-grade footballer, he’s an A-grade person and we’ll support him and he’ll bounce back.
“Our focus now goes onto Saturday night and Melbourne.”