Jake Riccardi celebrates during the round 11 match between Geelong and Greater Western Sydney at GMHBA Stadium, May 25, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

THERE were few players as instrumental in Greater Western Sydney's critical win away to Geelong two weeks ago as Jake Riccardi and few who needed a big individual performance as much as the 24-year-old.

Riccardi kicked four goals in the GMHBA triumph for his biggest haul of the season as the Giants ended a three-game losing streak and went into their bye feeling far more encouraged about the state of their season.

Prior to the Cats clash, Riccardi had only mustered one goal in the three games previous and with the Giants losing all three, a pressure reliever on his spot was needed and dutifully provided.

"My games leading into that I had some good moments and did some things that the coaches were very happy with like my contest and my competing, but I just wasn't cashing in and making right decisions with my leads and hitting the scoreboard," Riccardi said.


"It was nice to get the four against Geelong, I felt like I had aspects of my game going well, I just needed to cash in on that and kick some goals."

"After the game it was great to celebrate with the boys in the room and I was happy with how I went but Leek Aleer with the way he played and everyone playing their roles, it was our first big win in a little bit of time, so it was nice to get that on the board and it feels good going into Saturday," Riccardi added.


Along with Riccardi's confidence lifter, the Giants' forward line has received a further boost ahead of the tricky away clash with in-form Hawthorn on Saturday with Callum Brown set to return from suspension.

He looms as one of two changes to the Giants side with Callan Ward set to return, as Stephen Coniglio and Harry Perryman go out due to injury.

Their absence will be sorely felt but Josh Kelly's recovery from a calf injury is encouraging. He moved well at Giants main training on Thursday and could make a surprise return next week against Port Adelaide.

Jack Buckley is also likely to return to take on the Power while Isaac Cumming will play in the VFL next week as he looks to break into the AFL team after an injury plagued campaign.

Jack Buckley runs with the ball during Greater Western Sydney's clash against St Kilda in round five, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Brown's inclusion gives the Giants' forward line an extra element of unpredictability with the Irishman sitting second for goals per game at the club, in his hybrid role in attack.

"I feel like when he's in the side we're definitely a better team. He just adds such a different aspect to the forward line. He's so fast but he can take a mark so for opposition teams there's not really a set guy that can go to him," Riccardi said.

"He can beat you on the ground and beat you in the air, so I feel like he really adds the last piece of the puzzle for us."

A fresh Sam Taylor signature tying the superstar defender to the Giants for the next eight seasons was never really in doubt, but the West Australian's decision to sign early rather than playing any contractual games has sent a strong message to his teammates.

"I think that's the point. The bigger part of it is that he hasn't waited until next year when you allow clubs to start poking their heads around," Riccardi said.

"He's just said, 'No thanks, I'll be here forever.' It's a huge message to us from one of our best players saying he wants to stay here forever, so we should all follow."

Sam Taylor in action during Greater Western Sydney's clash against West Coast in round two, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Saturday afternoon's match-up with the Hawks shapes up as a fascinating challenge for the Giants, who look to have their mojo back but will face a team full of confidence in Hawthorn which has won four of its past five games.

The unfamiliarity of UTAS Stadium, where the Giants have only played three times before, adds another dimension to the task for GWS, but Riccardi is confident their excellent record on the road in recent times will come to the fore again.

"Teams might not feel as comfortable doing so but we've built such a good record over the last 18 months that every time we do play away it feels like an advantage for us," he said.

"We don't mind getting on the plane, staying in a hotel, it's just normal practice for us and we're looking forward to it."