AAP AFL

AFL setbacks steeled GWS for AFL finals

By AAP Newswire

A month-long losing streak and stack of injuries tested GWS's resilience and resolve this AFL season but clearing those hurdles have created confidence they can handle the heat in September.

The Giants were written off as finals contenders, let along flag fancies, after slipping to 11th on the ladder in May.

Leon Cameron's coaching was called into question, as was the expansion club's depth following a series of setbacks to key personnel.

GWS are two victories away from reaching a maiden grand final, having clambered up the ladder during the second half of the season while weathering further hammer blows.

Jeremy Cameron's five-game suspension was supposed to ruin their premiership hopes. Likewise, Heath Shaw's season-ending knee injury and Brett Deledio's supposedly season-ending calf setback.

Harry Himmelberg, the young forward who stood up superbly and marshalled the forward line when Cameron was banned, suggested his team have matured a lot in 2018.

"We've had some ups and downs and demonstrated some really good resilience with the cards we've been dealt," Himmelberg told AAP.

"It's been a massive year for us. Even look at those recent games (in rounds 20 and 21) when we lost three or four players to injury.

"We had to change a lot of things, think on the spot.

"We worked through those issues in the heat of the moment.

"It gives us massive confidence that whatever gets thrown our way during a game we'll be able to handle."

Himmelberg was full of praise for Leon Cameron as well as Phil Davis and Callan Ward, noting his co-captains inspired during good times and bad this year.

Cameron shifted from the coaches' box to the boundary line in round 11, a circuit-breaker that was followed by nine victories from 10 rounds.

Ward, who defers credit to Cameron, believes the challenges built character.

"I've got no doubt in a big-pressure game we can stand up because of the year we've had," Ward said.

"I know when we lost four games in a row, everybody wrote us off.

"Our form, when the pressure was really on, stood up and that drives self-belief and confidence."

Ward and Himmelberg noted Cameron's composure was critical in the turnaround.

"Leon doesn't get flustered. He's a very cool character," Himmelberg said.

"Leon's message (in the losing streak) was to back ourselves, keep working on the things that needed work and know the tide will eventually turn.

"It did. We changed a few things and started playing the sort of footy we knew we could play."