WHEN Stephen Coniglio made his decision to commit to Greater Western Sydney for life, good mate Lachie Whitfield was one of the first Giants he told.
Just minutes before Heath Shaw announced Coniglio's re-signing to a packed pre-finals club dinner last week, the vice-captain broke the news to Whitfield.
Whitfield's face lit up before Coniglio could even finish his sentence.
Everyone thought Heath Shaw was announcing something very different... instead he broke the news of Stephen Coniglio's re-signing!— AFL (@AFL) August 28, 2019
'Cogs' signed a massive for seven-year deal with the @GWSGIANTS: https://t.co/LSDIofjpX7 pic.twitter.com/EaWj329mrv
He told AFL.com.au that news of the new seven-year deal gave the Giants a massive lift ahead of this week's elimination final clash with the Western Bulldogs at Giants Stadium.
"He had to take me around the corner so nobody could see us because he knew what my reaction would be," he said with a laugh.
"I just jumped on him and nearly tackled him to the ground.
"It's amazing, it's truly great that he's staying with us.
Good mates Stephen Coniglio and Lachie Whitfield. Picture: AFL Photos
"He rejected some huge money offers so it shows what type of person he is, and that there's still some loyalty left in this game. He's a great leader for us."
Those words should make GWS fans extremely happy.
Whitfield isn't just one of the competition's smartest players on the field, the reigning club champion is also highly intelligent when it comes to how the sporting world ticks away from it.
The 2018 All Australian defender realises that with Coniglio's signature – along with those of Josh Kelly, Harry Himmelberg, Jacob Hopper, Nick Haynes and a host of other key players this year – locked away, the footy media will turn its attention to the next high-profile Giants set to come out of contract.
Whitfield is one of them, along with Coleman Medal winner Jeremy Cameron, with his current deal set to end at the end of 2020.
The laidback Liverpool fanatic, who shares the same management team as Coniglio, laughed when asked about his own contract situation.
He said his sole focus is on the Dogs this Saturday, but Whitfield takes comfort from knowing he has Coniglio and Kelly to confide in when he does start to think about his long-term future.
"I'm not even worrying about it right now," he said.
"There's finals to play out and a whole summer and whatever it is before next year.
"When the time comes (to make a decision) I know I've got two boys who have been through it before I can lean on."
While not officially part of the GWS onball division, Whitfield's role as a high half-forward with a licence to roam, means he'll spend plenty of time around the footy against the Bulldogs.
The form of stars like Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Josh Dunkley and Lachie Hunter has been a major factor in the visitors' outstanding run to the finals, after the team was 4-7 at the mid-season bye.
Whitfield heaped plenty of praise on the Dogs, but he also pointed out that even with Coniglio and co-captain Callan Ward missing, his own midfield of Kelly, Jacob Hopper, Tim Taranto, Toby Greene and Matt de Boer, contains plenty of quality.
"From everything I've seen the Dogs probably have the highest rated midfield going around and it's going to be a great battle," he said.
"I think with us being up here in Sydney though, our midfield gets severely underrated.
"We've got probably the best mover in the game in Josh, one of the best taggers in Matty de Boer, and then we've got two young blokes in Timmy and 'Hops'.
"For guys their age to take on the workload and responsibility that 'Cogs' and 'Wardy' usually have as senior players, has been unbelievable.
"To do it for the whole season has been pretty special."