Greater Western Sydney midfielder Rhys Palmer says the Giants can’t afford to write off their 111-point loss to West Coast as an aberration, and must figure out exactly what went wrong if they are to take further strides this year.
The Giants ventured to WA last weekend without four of their best players — Jeremy Cameron (ear), Adam Treloar (ankle), Curtly Hampton (ankle) and Shane Mumford (knee) — but were still shocked at the way they were dismantled by the Eagles, who were coming off four losses in a row.
The nature of the defeat was similar to heavy losses inflicted on the Giants in their first two seasons in the AFL.
Palmer said after two wins and plenty of growth in 2014, the loss was a stark reminder of how far they could slip if they were not at their peak.
“I think if you look at any side, you take four of their best players out and they’re going to struggle,” Palmer said.
“But look, you can make all the excuses, at the end of the day the 22 we put on the field we expect to step up to the plate. We just didn’t do that.
“I think we’re on the improve. Compare this year to last year, there’s so many areas we’ve improved a hell of a lot in. We’re definitely going to look at this game, and this game especially, because looking back at the games where we do get thumped is going to hold us in good stead.
“We’re pretty proud to wear this jumper and to put a performance up like that is very disappointing, not just for individuals but the whole club.”
This week’s bye has come at an ideal time for the Giants, with a number of their better players on the verge of a return from injury, not to mention the distraction of Toby Greene’s chaotic Monday night in Melbourne.
Cameron, who is fit to play but can’t travel on a plane because of his injury, is set to line up against Richmond at Spotless Stadium next Saturday, with Hampton and Treloar also expected to be fit.
Mumford, who was the form ruckman in the early weeks of the season, is also in contention to play his first game since round four.
But perhaps the best news for the Giants is the fitness of full-back Tim Mohr (foot), who will be available after playing his first game of the year in the NEAFL last weekend.
The Giants have struggled in the back line since losing co-captain Phil Davis to a kidney injury in round one and with Nick Haynes breaking his ankle against the Eagles, Mohr’s return can’t come soon enough.
The Giants’ first-choice full-back in their first two seasons can play on the most dangerous forwards.
Palmer said with most players back on deck, he expected some open and honest conversations about where the club is at and where it needs to get to.
“It’s got to drive from the players. The players will go over it and, starting from the leadership, we’ll work our way through,” he said.
“We had a couple of days off to recover and have a bit of a mental freshen-up, then we’re going to get back on the track and pick some spots we need to work on. At the end of the day we’ve just got to get harder.”