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GWS star dumped - but could Cameron spring a Giant surprise?


Just when we thought Stevie J was out – he could be back in… with Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron pondering late changes to his side for tonight’s AFL qualifying final against Adelaide.

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Cameron says forecast rain and strong winds for the Adelaide Oval final could prompt a last-minute selection change.

Cameron has dropped out-of-form forward Stevie Johnson – who is listed as an emergency – and was unable to pick fellow attacker Devon Smith because of a knee injury.

Former Fremantle utility Matt de Boer and Harrison Himmelberg have been named as replacements.

Cameron says further changes to his selected 22 are possible – particularly to his tall forward line – if wild weather eventuates.

“We have got a squad of 25 here and we have talked about that,” Cameron said yesterday.

“If it does become conditions that might suit more players low to the ground, then we’ll definitely look at that.

“But in saying that, we back our system in, and one change or two changes because of weather is not going to be the difference in the game.”

Johnson’s selection had been under intense scrutiny after the retiring former Cat premiership star’s lean recent run of form.

“Where he sits over the past couple of weeks, his performances probably haven’t been to the level that they needed to be at,” Cameron said before his omission was formalised.

“And he’s the first one to walk into the office and say ‘look, I haven’t been playing some great footy’.

“On top of that, we know we have had to juggle his injury with his knee.”

Adelaide made three changes to its side that contested the last home-and-away game.

Vice-captain Rory Sloane (appendix) was ruled out and winger Wayne Milera and rookie defender Alex Keath were dropped, with the Crows recalling captain Taylor Walker, fullback Daniel Talia and first-year midfielder Hugh Greenwood.

Walker (toe), Talia (ankle) and Greenwood (rested) sat out Adelaide’s last fixture of the home-and-away season.

Sloane’s loss is significant, with Cameron noting midfield duels will determine the victor in tonight’s game.

“Normally, the battle is who wins the midfield normally wins the game,” Cameron said.

“And I don’t think it will be any different [tonight].”

Cameron predicted a rugged stoush with the Crows at Adelaide Oval, where his Giants were soundly beaten in their Round 1 encounter.

“To be totally honest, I think the game is going to be a game of turnovers,” he said.

“There’s going to be an enormous amount of pressure. There’s going to be an enormous amount of nerves from both teams because that is just what happens.”

Cameron rated the Crows as “the best side in the competition by a mile” at hurting opponents by causing turnovers.

“We have got to use the ball a bit better out of our back half,” he said.

“In saying that, you can’t be too cute and you also can’t be too slow as well, because if you go too slow against the Crows then they set up really well and lock the ball in their half of the ground.

“So we have got to be patient at times, but we have also got to be brave.

“We have got to get that right mix.”

Cameron was adamant his Giants were better placed for this year’s finals compared to last year, when they were defeated in a preliminary final by eventual premiers, the Western Bulldogs.

“Are we better prepared? Absolutely, because we have played finals last year,” he said.

“Realistically, you guys (media), myself and everyone watching is going to judge our 22… and if we compete like we know we can, then we’re a massive chance to beat Adelaide.

“But if we don’t, you can then ask the question why we didn’t step up to finals footy.

“So the pressure is on everyone – them and us – to perform.”


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