GREATER Western Sydney is holding out hope star midfielder Stephen Coniglio has avoided a season-ending knee injury, but the Giants remain unclear on the severity of the setback.
Coach Leon Cameron has also defended the club's decision to play the match-winner, despite him entering the game with significant strapping around the knee after a minor injury last week against Brisbane.
Coniglio was helped from the field four minutes into the Giants' loss to Richmond on Sunday, after twisting his left knee in an innocuous incident.
He was on crutches in the rooms after the game and will have scans on Monday morning, with the Giants uncertain if he has torn his anterior cruciate ligament.
"There's no doubt there's people who are going to be fearing the worst. I can't give you an answer yet. It's not like Callan Ward who went down in round four [and the club knew almost immediately he had suffered a season-ending injury]," Cameron said post-game.
TIGERS TOO GOOD Full match coverage and stats
"It's clearly a lot more positive than that. But until we actually get it really thoroughly checked out, I can't give you guys an answer.
"He's in a really positive headspace at the moment but if I said one thing and it happens to be the other, then I'm going to get it wrong. It's disappointing to lose him that early in the game and it probably got us for about 15-20 minutes.
"Cross our fingers that we get some positive news tomorrow."
Coniglio sits at the back of the bench after injuring his knee against the Tigers. Picture: AFL Photos
The Giants went goalless in the first term of the contest as the Tigers broke out to a 26-point lead at the first change. They ended up winning the game by 27 points.
But Coniglio's injury was the main focus, with the Giants' premiership hopes hanging by a thread if they lose the 25-year-old for the rest of the season.
Cameron said Coniglio, who started the contest in the forward 50, had been cleared by medical staff to play in the game.
"He was fine. We did all the testing last week and it was all clear. Our doctors and our physios, and specialists around Sydney and also Melbourne were saying 'He's ready to go'," he said.
"The most important thing was Stephen saying he was right to go, so you can't tie the two together.
"He's the sort of person who I asked three or four times 'Are you right in your own mind?' and he wants to play every week and he was ready to go. He trained for the entire main session during the week so you're heading down the wrong path if you're trying to tie those together."
The possible injury layoff for Coniglio could have effects around the AFL, too, with Hawthorn and Carlton among the clubs chasing the restricted free agent. His close friend, Hawthorn midfielder Jaeger O'Meara, was in the Giants' rooms post-game.
Coniglio's likely absence leaves the Giants without fellow star midfielders Josh Kelly, who will miss at least another two weeks with a calf injury, and co-captain Ward, who is ruled out until 2020. They are also missing tagger Matt de Boer (shoulder) for the next six weeks.
The Giants are on a three-game losing streak, have dropped four of their past five games, and next week face Collingwood, who are desperate to hold onto their top-two position on the ladder.
"We're going to keep fronting up. We're not going to play this 'poor me' card with our injuries," Cameron said.