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Giants ponder how to tame Tigers without star stopper

Max back, forgotten Hawk returns, Saint hamstrung Nat Edwards with all the latest footy news

MATT de Boer's absence has been a big factor in Greater Western Sydney's recent form slump, and Sunday's clash with a star-studded Richmond midfield at the MCG looms as another massive test for Leon Cameron's coaching staff.

FULL INJURY LIST Who's ruled out and who's a test?

Since de Boer suffered a serious shoulder injury against Gold Coast in round 11, the Giants have lost three of their four matches.

In those defeats, they've been hurt by the opposition midfielder that most likely would have been the former Fremantle stopper's main target.

Matt de Boer put the clamps on Dustin Martin in round three. Picture: AFL Photos

Adelaide's Matt Crouch (round 12, 34 possessions) and Essendon's Zach Merrett (round 15, 28) – who was shut down by de Boer in the season opener – enjoyed their midfield freedom against the Giants.

Last week, it was Brisbane ball magnet Lachie Neale (31) who was highly influential.

The Giants used defender Sam Reid on the dangerous Dayne Zorko in the first term with great effect, but when he was sent back to try and quell speedster Charlie Cameron, Zorko racked up 24 touches after quarter-time.

When GWS belted the Tigers by 49 points in round three, de Boer frustrated Dustin Martin out of the contest, so much so that the Brownlow medallist was reported for striking Adam Kennedy and suspended.

The Giants will face Martin again on Sunday and will also have guns like Trent Cotchin, Dion Prestia and Shane Edwards to deal with, but Cameron is confident his team has a plan to help them win the game.

"It's hard to take out every quality player from the opposition, and likewise they'll be saying that about us," he said on Thursday.

"Sometimes we go in and don't worry about it (tagging) and that's what we did against Brisbane after quarter-time.

"Ultimately, we were down by 20 points at quarter-time and we couldn't make that up, so the game was probably even without us running with someone (through the midfield).

"If we feel as though we need to challenge a (Harry) Perryman to go onto Cotchin, who is a super player, then clearly we've had some discussions about that this week.

"We're probably more than likely not to (do that) to start the game, but we'll finalise that (before Sunday)."

It's hard to take out every quality player from the opposition - Leon Cameron

The Giants expect de Boer to return over the next month once he's completed his rehabilitation from a fractured shoulder.

With matches against the Tigers, Collingwood (home), Port Adelaide (away), Sydney (home) on the horizon, he'll be a welcome inclusion as the team attempts to work its way back into the top four.

 

The ex-Docker was initially marked down to miss at least eight weeks, but he's running well with his left arm in a sling, and Cameron said the veteran is on track for an early comeback.

"Matty is banging the door down saying he'll only miss six or seven weeks, but the doctor will tell us when he come back," he said.

"It's just about making sure we stabilise the shoulder.

"He'd had a fantastic year up until he was injured so it'll be a huge injection for us when he does put his hand up, probably around that Sydney game (in round 20)."

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