JOSH Kelly will become Greater Western Sydney's third on-field captain this season when he leads the team against West Coast, despite the uncertainty over his future at the club beyond this year.
The smooth-moving midfielder will captain the Giants for the first time and lead a young line-up that will welcome the return of All-Australian defender Nick Haynes.
Kelly will take the reins from Toby Greene after he fractured his right shoulder and joined captain Stephen Coniglio on the sidelines for the next month.
"It's exciting for him. He's got to stick to what he knows and he's got to be himself. It was a bit of a no-brainer for us," coach Leon Cameron said.
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"The good thing about it is his unbelievable, selfless approach over the last six or seven weeks when we've been down on numbers and he's been filling in different positions. He plays mid, he plays wing, he plays high half-forward, and yet his performances have been first-class.
"That's the sort of player we're talking about and that's the sort of reason why it was an easy decision."
Kelly has averaged 24 disposals and a goal a game while playing a variety of roles, as he rediscovers the sort of form that led to him being an All-Australian and club champion in 2017.
It has been a timely return to form, as Kelly is out of contract and will become a restricted free agent at the end of the season, though he has an option to extend his deal with the Giants for another eight years on lucrative terms reported to be around $1 million a season.
Cameron is comfortable with Kelly taking on the captaincy amid speculation over his future.
"He's the best person to captain our football club right now. He's the standout. Whether that's in contract or out of contract is irrelevant to me," Cameron said.
"The great confidence that I have in Josh is that he's been here for eight years, I'm confident he'll be here for a long, long time at our footy club.
"But that doesn't come into play when you're looking at your best leader for this weekend's game and next weekend until some guys return. He's the best person for the job."
Kelly is one of only three players from the Giants' seven-man leadership group – along with Jacob Hopper and Lachie Whitfield – to be fit to face the Eagles on Sunday. He has been part of the leadership group since 2017 and was vice-captain in 2018-19.
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The 26-year-old will lead an inexperienced Giants team that had 12 players with under 50 games' experience against the Tigers and has now lost Greene and half-back Harry Perryman.
The backline should at least gain some valuable experience with the return of Haynes and the versatile Sam Reid from hamstring injuries.
Jeremy Finlayson is also set to return after serving a one-week suspension.
Jesse Hogan will play back-to-back games for the Giants for the first time, after the key forward kicked four goals against Richmond and pulled up with no sign of the calf or quad issues that have interrupted his start at a third club.
The prized recruit also kicked four goals in his Giants debut, in a 67-point win over Adelaide in round seven, and will take on more responsibility in a forward line now looking to cover Greene's absence.
"Jesse has just got to go about his business. He's going really, really well," Cameron said.
"His workrate is at a really high level. Every week he goes on, there is going to be better connection.
"We're rapt with his attitude, rapt with his buy-in, he gets another opportunity this week to show himself and show his footy club what he's about."