GREATER Western Sydney will have to call on its third captain of the season now that superstar forward Toby Greene has joined skipper Stephen Coniglio on the sidelines.
And it's another long-serving Giant – smooth-moving midfielder Josh Kelly – who looks best placed to lead his side in the injury-enforced absence of his two star teammates.
Greene took on the Giants vice-captaincy for the first time this year but has run out as skipper in the past six matches while Coniglio has been missing with a syndesmosis injury sustained in round three.
The 27-year-old Greene booted a bag of five goals in his first game as captain this year, in the 30-point win over Collingwood, later stepping up again to kick four against his old rivals Western Bulldogs.
The Giants have won four of six games with Greene as captain this season.
But with Greene sidelined for a month with a fracture in his shoulder and first-choice captain Coniglio missing for another 4-6 weeks with his ankle injury, the Giants now need a another on-field captain.
Josh Kelly, Jacob Hopper and Lachie Whitfield are part of the leadership group and should be in line to take on more responsibility with Coniglio and Greene sidelined.
Matt de Boer and former co-captain Phil Davis are also part of the leadership group, but like Coniglio they have been sidelined since round three and aren't expected to return for at least a few more weeks.
Kelly looms large as the next stand-in skipper. He has been part of the leadership group since 2017, and was vice-captain in 2018-19 before the Giants removed the role for the 2020 season.
The 26-year-old has rediscovered some of his best form this season and is averaging 24 disposals and a goal a game.
It's been a timely revival for Kelly after groin problems hampered his 2018-19 campaigns, as he approaches decision time on whether to take up an eight-year contract extension with GWS on already-agreed terms at season's end.
Coach Leon Cameron expects Kelly to join Greene, Whitfield and Coniglio as GWS "lifers" and the midfielder appears the obvious choice in terms of form, experience and standing in the game to take the reins for the next month.
Hopper joined the leadership group for the first this year but would be a shrewd selection if the Giants decide to turn to someone from their next generation of leaders.
The 24-year-old has been one of the Giants’ best players this season and is averaging a career-high 27 disposals.
Whitfield seems less likely to take on the role as he focuses on finding his top form after missing the first six games of the year with a lacerated liver, but is a popular player around the club.
Whoever is selected to captain the Giants over the next month will lead an increasingly inexperienced team – the Giants had 12 players with under 50 games’ experience, and another seven that have played less than 100, when they faced Richmond last week.
The next skipper will also lead a team without its main match-winner – the Giants have won 63 per cent of games that Greene has played since 2016, but only 48 per cent when he has been missing.