YOU'D be hard-pressed to find a player with a bigger smile on his face after Saturday's crushing elimination final win over the Western Bulldogs than Aidan Corr.
The Greater Western Sydney key defender, who missed most of the home and away season with injury, was a star in the 58-point victory at Giants Stadium.
Corr is one of the Giants' most underrated pillars down back, but he played just two of the first 20 games of 2019 because of an ankle injury, and subsequent calf tears he suffered while doing rehab.
Aidan Corr (left) and Josh Kelly training in August. Picture: Getty Images
The 25-year-old missed last year's finals series with groin issues and looked destined to watch on again until GWS coach Leon Cameron picked him to play the Bulldogs in round 22, without so much as a comeback game in the reserves.
It was a short-term risk, but has reaped long-term rewards for the Giants.
Corr told AFL.com.au that late in the season he thought his chances of playing senior footy were done.
"At one point (I thought I might not get back) when I re-strained it the second time, I was pretty frustrated," he said.
"It was a meant to be a one-week ankle but it blew out to about 15 with a couple of calf issues.
"I knew I was pushing it to get back this year and I'd need a few NEAFL games to get up to scratch, so I can't thank Leon and the coaches enough for giving me a crack against the Bulldogs (in round 22).
"If it was the first final there was no way I would have been playing.
"I wasn't blowing but my legs were cramping and I couldn't get through a full game, but four games later I'm feeling good.
It wasn't looking great and I thought I was going to miss out in finals again, but here I am. - Aidan Corr
With the inclusion of star interceptor Nick Haynes against the Dogs, the GWS defensive unit was full strength, and in menacing form.
With Haynes and Phil Davis providing controlling the air, Corr and Sam Taylor the strength as key talls, and Heath Shaw, Zac Williams and Adam Kennedy in outstanding touch at ground level, the Giants' backline was full of confidence.
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"I felt really good down there on the weekend and that back seven or eight we've got, that’s a really settled group for us," he said.
"You could see the 'come forward' mentality that we had, we had that rust that if we backed ourselves, the boys behind us would back us up.
"That’s been built over the years we've played together and I'm so glad it clicked on the weekend because a couple of weeks ago it didn't work too well, and the Dogs stitched us up."
Corr in action during his return game in round 22. Picture: Getty Images
The GWS backline will have its hands full containing Virgin Australia AFL All Australian star Charlie Cameron on Saturday night, with Corr, veteran Heath Shaw, Zac Williams and Sam Reid all in the mix to get the job.
"He's a super player and I'll have my hands full if I have to spend even five minutes on him," he said.
"It could be a mix between myself and Sam Taylor, and 'Shawry' goes alright because he's got the speed and is super smart.
"We're quite flexible which is great, so our boys will probably stay on their lines and whoever comes to us we'll deal with it."