AAP AFL

Patton to the fore in Giants’ crunch clash

By AAP Newswire

Jon Patton looms as the man that must step up against Hawthorn at Spotless Stadium on Saturday night, when Greater Western Sydney start AFL life without suspended forward Jeremy Cameron.

Cameron, who has been the cornerstone of the Giants' forward line throughout the expansion club's existence, will miss the next five games.

It coincides with a season-defining stretch for GWS, who sit 10th on the ladder and face the ninth-placed Hawks then premiership contenders West Coast, Richmond and Port Adelaide.

Patton was dropped during the Giants' four-match losing streak in May and has often been used as a back-up ruckman this year.

But the former No.1 draft pick is set to patrol the forward line exclusively once again, with fit-again Rory Lobb joining fellow ruckman Dawson Simpson in the side.

"Things change a little bit with Jez Cameron out, he's a star," vice-captain Josh Kelly told reporters on Friday.

"It (losing key players) is something we've dealt with for a while. We get an injury and bring in a player that's more than capable.

"Having Rory back is a huge win ... and Jonny's proven that he can have really big games."

Patton pointed to his form late last year, when Cameron was sidelined with a hamstring injury, as cause for confidence.

"I stepped up and played some really good football," he told radio station SEN.

"I showed that when I'm up and going, I'm a pretty good key forward.

"The whole forward line, we all have to step up now."

Kelly was full of praise for how Patton responded after his demotion to the NEAFL earlier this year.

"He's been a big part in our recent run of form ... he's got a real presence," the midfielder said.

"We just want him to crash packs."

Kelly's return from a groin injury, which forced him to miss six games, has also played a major role in the Giants bouncing back from a slump that made a mockery of their premiership credentials.

The 23-year-old ball magnet, who last year re-signed with GWS after shunning a $10-million offer from North Melbourne, has been spending plenty of time on the wing.

"We have so many good inside midfielders playing that role really well, so for me to go out there and let those boys go to work - it's been great for the team," Kelly said.

Kelly described the testing month ahead as an "opportunity to show why we should be in the finals race".