GWS WILL have to overcome a decimated forward line if they’re to create club history in the Wild West on Sunday after stars Steve Johnson and Rory Lobb were added to a ballooning injury list.
The cruel double blow is set to spark a major reshuffle upfront as coach Leon Cameron tries to prepare his side for a maiden win over the West Coast Eagles in Perth without nine of his top line roster available.
Johnson’s latest knee setback has shone a spotlight on the difficult task the Giants now face to keep their veteran 33-year-old on the park for the big matches this season.
It’s becoming increasingly clear GWS will need to manage Johnson carefully through the regular season, after he also missed Round 4 with the same flare-up with his knee that has resurfaced following last week’s triumph over Richmond.
“Steve has been pulling up quite sore in recent weeks and his knee just hasn’t recovered well enough this week so won’t be available to play,” said the Giants’ head of athletic performance, David Joyce.
Fellow forward Lobb is also set to miss up to two matches with the groin injury he picked up against the Tigers.
“Rory has received two heavy knocks to his pelvis in the last fortnight,” Joyce said.
“He’s been sore as a result and hasn’t quite got to the level that we need early this week.
“We’ve made the early decision to focus on his recovery in order to get him right as soon as possible.
“We’re confident that with the right treatment both players won’t be far away from returning to the field.”
After beating Collingwood thanks to Johnson’s mercurial boot a couple of weeks ago, conquering the Eagles is now the Giants final frontier in AFL club land.
It’s regarded the toughest road trip in the game, and Cameron’s side are going to have to dig deep to cement their top two position on a congested ladder.
No one at the Giants expected Johnson to get through an entire season without incident, and he will continue to be monitored closely to ensure he is fully fit when it really matters.
Standout NEAFL performers Matt Kennedy and Harry Himmelberg shape as potential replacements for Johnson and Lobb but a significantly reshuffled forward line appears certain.
In positive news for the Giatns, defender Nick Haynes (hamstring) is improving and will return after the mid-season bye.
Brett Deledio (calf), Jeremy Finlayson (groin), Jacob Hopper (finger), Ryan Griffen (ankle), Will Setterfield (ankle) and Stephen Coniglio (ankle) are also on track to return to action soon.