‘Unlucky’ Giant to make way for returning star

Josh Kelly says the selection squeeze at GWS is the sign of a team at its strongest as another chance to spoil an opponent’s home final awaits.

AFL: GWS held off a number of threats from St Kilda to prevail by 24 points and advance to a semi-final against Port Adelaide at the Adelaide Oval.

Coniglio, who withdrew from the Saints clash on the morning of the game due to blurred vision after he copped a football to the eye at training last week, trained fully on Tuesday to force a big selection decision for coach Adam Kingsley.

Late inclusion Xavier O’Halloran appears the most likely to make way for the star midfielder despite having a significant hand in the side’s blistering second half of the season.

The wing-forward could be relegated to the sub role at the expense of veteran Nick Haynes, with Kelly saying whoever missed the Adelaide Oval clash after playing in the comprehensive win would be desperately unlucky.

“We haven’t discussed it … I think everyone on the weekend played their role and played it really well,” he said.

“I think when you’ve got that kind of pressure for selection and whoever comes in executes their role, that’s the sign of really good teams, and fortunately we have that at the moment.

Stephen Coniglio trained on Tuesday as Josh Kelly declared him ‘good to go’ against Port Adelaide on Saturday night. Picture: Brendon Thorne / Getty Images

“It will be a tough one, but I think everyone’s really understanding that that’s the way it is, that’s how you be a successful team.”

Kelly, who skirted around the edges of training on Tuesday, said he was fine as he managed a niggle from the Saints game, saying other teammates were recovering from minor knocks but the Giants had no concerns leading into Saturday.

“I’m fine, just a bit of management. There’s a few players on the same program, so all good … just a bit of a rest up and back into training in a couple of days,” he said.

“To get through a finals game like that relatively unscathed is good for us.”

Coniglio was not “in a situation to play” on the morning of the Saints game, but Kelly declared him fit to face the Power.

“It was unfortunate missing him on the weekend, but he trained out there today, he’s feeling a lot better, so he’s good to go,” Kelly said.

“It obviously wasn’t ideal, a footy to the eye, so a bit of blurred vision. The fact is he’s fine now. He wasn’t in a situation to go out there on the weekend.”

Coniglio’s absence meant Kelly attended a significantly higher portion of centre bounces than he had in previous weeks, gathering 30 disposals at 77 per cent efficiency and booting two goals.

Kelly was fired up after slamming home a second goal in quick succession to bury St Kilda before halftime in the elimination final. Picture: Phil Hillyard

“To step up in a final is obviously what you want to do, but I think everyone is on the same page – you don’t go out there at the moment to be best-on or anything like that,” he said.

“I had the opportunity because Cogs was out to play a little bit more midfield and just tried to do what I could do.”

With the MCG victory sealing a competition record number of wins at different venues in a single season (11), Kelly said the Giants would embrace another extremely lopsided crowd in the semi-final.

His emphatic celebration after his second goal during the first half on Saturday was almost lost due to the eerie silence of more than 60,000 St Kilda fans looking on.

“First and foremost, we travel a bit, so we need to have the ability to play our game style at any ground across the competition,” Kelly said.

“Adelaide Oval is just another one of those grounds … the crowd can get a bit hostile, which is also a bit of fun for us as well.

“On the weekend, the ‘G was really pumping, we just had to keep going about our business.”

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