TIM Taranto has been touted as a future Greater Western Sydney captain and he outlined his leadership ambitions on Wednesday after announcing a two-year contract extension with the club.
The former No.2 draft pick's current deal wasn't due to expire until the end of next season, but the gun midfielder is now tied to the Giants until the end of 2022.
Now in his third season, Taranto has had to assume extra responsibility after the departures of Dylan Shiel, Tom Scully and Will Setterfield during last year's NAB AFL Trade Period, and he's done it in outstanding fashion, averaging 28.3 possessions, 6.7 tackles and 5.3 clearances per game in 2019.
The 21-year-old's year has been even more important to the Giants due to the absence of co-captain Callan Ward for virtually the entire season, as well as vice-captains Stephen Coniglio and Josh Kelly, and Matt de Boer.
Taranto is part of the GWS emerging leaders' program and said the absence of his star teammates has helped fast-track his development, and the injured quartet have been big influences on his game on and off the field.
That has also reinforced his official leadership aspirations.
"That's something I look forward to doing in the next few years, hopefully," he said.
"We're learning some leadership skills and having some input into how the group goes about things week to week, and I enjoy doing that.
"I've really enjoyed the opportunity and I look it as a real positive to get the most out of ourselves as leaders out on the field."
Like most of the Giants' high draft selections, the highly rated Victorian has been talked about as a target for Melbourne clubs in the future, but Taranto said the 'go-home factor' isn't something that has ever been on his mind.
Taranto and Jacob Hopper have excelled this season despite being without Ward, Coniglio and Kelly, with the pair meeting weekly to maintain their focus on performing at a high standard week after week.
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"We have lunch to talk about how we're going and what we expect from ourselves," he said.
"We've got a really great relationship and that’s grown immensely this year, so it's been really good to work so closely with him."
A highly physical inside midfielder in his own right, Taranto has always relished the opportunity to match his talents against the League's elite onballers.
Saturday's Derby against Sydney at Giants Stadium will see him presented with another massive test, in the form of Swans co-captains Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker.
"They're both bulls and have been two of the best at it in the game for a long time," he said.
"When I was growing up I watched those two a lot and enjoyed the way they played.
"Once I got my chance to play on them I tried to learn as much as I could from them while I tried to beat them, so it's great experience."