FRUSTRATED Giants coach Leon Cameron has stopped short of guaranteeing captain Steve Coniglio will return next week and warned there could be more selection stunners to come.
Greater Western Sydney's decision to axe Coniglio, who rejected interest from Carlton, Hawthorn, St Kilda and others last year to re-sign for seven seasons, caused a massive stir on Friday.
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The Giants easily won contested possessions and narrowly lost clearances in Coniglio's absence on Saturday night, but suffered a five-point defeat to Melbourne that left their finals hopes in tatters.
They must defeat St Kilda next Friday night, and ideally by a big margin, to have any chance of extending their finals streak to five years – but other results will need to go their way.
However, Cameron was more concerned with his side's wildly inconsistent play, not only between matches but from quarter to quarter.
"We've had a jammed up 14 days (of games) and I can't question some of the effort out there today. There's no doubt we were out on our feet in the last quarter, on a four-day break," he said.
"But it's pointless having effort then a lack of composure. It's pointless having effort then a lack of fundamentals.
"So, in terms of this week, we're on again in six days' time against St Kilda and we'll play to the end and where that leads to is out of our hands."
Cameron hailed Tom Green's "outstanding" game, with 21 of his game-high 30 disposals being contested, Jack Buckley's performance on debut and Brent Daniels' three-goal effort.
As for Coniglio, he will have to wait to discover his fate for round 18.
"I understand it was a huge decision for our footy club, but myself and Stephen and our match committee understand he's been out of form – and it's been for a few weeks," Cameron said.
"We made that really tough call, but if there have to be more tough calls next week, there will be, because our season's been like that. We haven't turned up all the time.
"You don't go out and deliberately (make selection statements). You look at the cold hard facts and … he understands the areas of his game he wants to get better at.
"I have no doubt with his character he will, and he'll train well this week and he'll want to put his hand up, but when you've been good for two weeks and bad for two weeks, you can't have anyone who's safe."
Simon Goodwin's Demons leapfrogged GWS into the top eight, but they, too, must win their last match against Essendon and are relying on other results.
There were no smiles from Goodwin in his post-match media conference, with the fourth-year coach saying his team was still "a work in progress".
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"We've spoken about the learnings of the last two games and the importance of what we needed to execute tonight, so it was a step forward as a footy club," he said.
"There's no question about that. I thought some of the maturity of some of our younger guys especially was outstanding.
"But we've got to create a new pathway forward as a club and play this way week in, week out, and all we've done is given ourselves an opportunity to play the same way again next week.
Goodwin was pleased with 2019 draftees Kysaiah Pickett and Trent Rivers, whose second goal inside the last three minutes proved the match-winning goal.