GREATER Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron has challenged his players to be mentally stronger for Friday night's important clash with the Western Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium.
The Giants were somewhat shock 20-point losers to North Melbourne on Sunday and now must back up five days later against arguably their greatest rival.
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Luke Beveridge's Dogs are under siege even more so, having convincingly dropped their first two matches of the year after being hyped incessantly in the off-season.
GWS has won four of the past five matches against them – levelling the overall ledger at six victories apiece – since losing the clubs' epic 2016 preliminary final.
The physical nature of the Giants' defeat of the Bulldogs in last year's elimination final set the tone for their run to the Grand Final.
Yet it was the Kangaroos who dictated proceedings to GWS at the weekend, which frustrated Cameron.
"I'd like to think our players are a lot better in that (mental) aspect of the game and they're disappointed today," the coach told reporters on Tuesday.
"We're reviewing today and I'd be disappointed for us not to respond in that area.
"Footy has a number of things people look at but the one thing is that effort around the contest and making really good decisions and being sharp with your mind and being on for the entire game.
"Every team you come up (against), if you're off a little bit, you'll get beaten.
"To the Kangaroos' credit, they played a good brand of 100 minutes of footy and we played only in patches and clearly that's what the scoreboard showed in the end."
Cameron, who played 172 of his 256 matches at the Bulldogs, is excited about the opportunity to appear on the primetime stage, particularly against a team they consider a genuine rival.
"I think clubs as they build – and we're only a young club, into our ninth year – you build rivalries, and we've happened to build a rivalry against the Bulldogs, who've obviously got a rivalry against the Swans," he said.
"We're not talking about 100-year rivalries of Carlton-Collingwood and Richmond-Carlton. They've been around a lot longer than what we have.
"But the games have been played in a really good manner, and they've won some, we've won some. I think it's great for footy.
"On Friday night, there's a lot at stake for both clubs and I'm sure that's going to bring the best out of both teams."
Cameron is hopeful the budding rivalry can become the type of spectacle that Hawthorn and Geelong have established across years of tight contests in meaningful matches.
However, he was most concerned with his side responding in a big way after "we let ourselves down" against North.
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"Our non-negotiables and pressure just weren't there and they needed to be there and we're going to challenge our guys to bring them out," Cameron said.
"Clearly we have only a five-day break and we look forward to getting our method right but also our intensity back up again against a team that clearly we have some great battles against.
"Doing that week in, week out is ultimately every team's challenge … and as much as our defence wasn't great, our offence needed to be better as well."
Cameron tipped former co-captain Callan Ward (knee), who returned on Sunday for his first match since round four last year, to back up against his former side.