FRIDAY night felt like an elimination final for Greater Western Sydney, but Leon Cameron believes it isn’t season over for the Giants despite falling to 1-5 after losing to St Kilda at Manuka Oval.
Greater Western Sydney has been dealt a difficult hand by the powers-that-be with fixtures against three sides in the top-four – Melbourne, Fremantle and now St Kilda – as well as Richmond, but there is no hiding from the fact this is the club's worst start to a season since 2013 when they won only once in their second season.
Cameron pointed out that the Giants recovered from a 0-3 and then 2-4 start to reach the second week of the finals last year and doesn’t believe the players have lost faith.
"Firstly, it did feel like a final, clearly we knew where we were at. (I'm) disappointed we got beaten, clearly. My job is to make sure we're ready to go next week; we've never, ever given up on finals, ever. I think we were 2-5 last year. We've got a bit of ground to make up," Cameron said in his post-match press conference on Friday night.
"Our boys are a little bit down on confidence, but our belief is there. We've got a good group. I've had a number of these players for ten years; I know when their belief is gone, and it's not gone.
"We've played St Kilda top-four, we've played Fremantle top-four, we've played Melbourne, we've played some really good teams.
"We're not shying away from our part in this; our part in this is we've been inconsistent; we're inconsistent at the moment; I'd be telling fibs if I didn’t say that. Inconsistent in that third quarter has cost us the game tonight. Credit to St Kilda, that's why they're sitting 5-1 and we're sitting 1-5. We're not going to run, we've got round seven next week; we can't have the week off."
Cameron conceded that everyone at the club is under the pump right now, himself included, but remained confident Greater Western Sydney can resurrect a season that is heading off the rails.
"I probably don’t tend to look at a lot of stuff like some. The game is challenging. Pressure is everywhere; clearly, we're under pressure, whether it's myself or the whole club," he said.
"We've got to keep learning and understand that every week if you're prepared to learn and understand why we got beaten or why we weren’t in the game we'll turn it around. I'm confident that will happen."
Greater Western Sydney co-captain Toby Greene made a highly-scrutinised return to the game for the first time since serving his six-game suspension for making contact with an umpire during last year's elimination final win over Sydney in Launceston.
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Greene finished with 1.2 from 14 disposals and seven score involvements, wasting a couple of opportunities that he would normally convert if he hadn’t missed so much football.
Cameron said the dual All-Australian absorbed a week of forensic analysis and will need a bit more time to blow the cobwebs out after not playing for 237 days.
"Did we all want him to come back and kick three or four goals and win the game? Absolutely. But the fairy tale didn’t happen," he said.
"The one thing I do know about Toby is he will be at work on Monday, doing everything possible to improve his game so he takes that into Adelaide.
"Champion players – and we know he is a champion player – are going to have an enormous amount of scrutiny. There is probably one or two or three from every footy club. Good, bad or otherwise, that’s why we love them.
"Toby has done his dues. He played his first game and he's going to get better every game he plays and we're going to get our connection better with him. I think he'll be sitting there right now and he'll be disappointed because of what's happened and he'll be relieved to get over his first game and now he can start to get into a bit of rhythm. I think we will see Toby Greene at his absolute best in probably another two or three weeks."