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‘He’s our spiritual leader’: Giants laud off-contract Coniglio

That performance further underlined Coniglio’s importance to the Giants, who are desperate to tie him down with a new contract. The 25-year-old becomes a restricted free agent at the end of the year and is certain to field big offers from teams in Victoria and his native Western Australia.

Giants board member and former Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel told 3AW radio on the weekend that he was “eight out of 10” confident that Coniglio will re-sign, and was similarly assured about their other off-contract star Josh Kelly.

Is he a Giants man? Absolutely. He’s bled for the club from the start when we were getting belted and clearly, he likes being at this footy club.

GWS Giants coach Leon Cameron on Stephen Coniglio

But the longer Coniglio waits to commit, the more speculation will ramp up about his future. Taranto, however, said it was not a topic for discussion inside the GWS clubrooms. “Honestly no one talks about it but I’m pretty confident it’ll get done,” he said.

Coniglio has been reluctant to discuss his future publicly this year. He declined to answer questions about his plans last week, saying his focus was on the Sydney derby, and looked uncomfortable when pressed on the matter on the Sunday Footy Show.

“Who’s to say I’m leaving?” a smiling Coniglio said when host Tony Jones asked him if he would find it tough to leave the Giants.

Speaking after the win over the Swans, GWS coach Leon Cameron praised Coniglio’s bravery in playing through the finger issue and said he was comfortable with where talks with his management were sitting.

Spiritual leader: Stephen Coniglio embraces fellow midfielder Jacob Hopper after the win over Sydney.

Spiritual leader: Stephen Coniglio embraces fellow midfielder Jacob Hopper after the win over Sydney.Credit:AAP

“I’m really confident that will play out in the right manner,” Cameron said. “There’s always two parts of a negotiation – there’s the club and there’s the player. But all indications are that’s heading in the right direction and that’s not disturbing his footy.

“Is he a Giants man? Absolutely. He’s bled for the club from the start when we were getting belted and clearly, he likes being at this footy club.”

Taranto, meanwhile, said the GWS on-ball unit learned the hard way from their shock defeat to Fremantle and made a point of bouncing back against Sydney.

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“We got taught a lesson last week,” he said.” They had a really good midfield and they towelled us up so we had to stand up this week and we did.

“You can never take your foot off the pedal. Mentally or physically you have to keep pushing every single game so that’s what we need to do.”

Taranto’s 30-disposal, 10-tackle display against the Swans continued a career-best run for the third-year midfielder, who along with Jacob Hopper has stepped up to fill the void left by the departures of Dylan Shiel and Tom Scully. “(It’s) not pressure but just more an opportunity. I guess me and Hopps could get some more time in the midfield and really crack on this year and that’s what we tried to do,” Taranto said. “(I’m) doing alright so far but only six games in so still a long season.”

Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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