Factoring in the shorter games this season, his numbers are only down marginally on last year but he has lacked the impact of previous campaigns.
“Stephen has been omitted from the side. He’s the first to admit his form hasn’t been where he’d like it to be,” Giants football boss Jason McCartney said on Triple M on Friday morning.
“I suppose a mark of the man Stephen Coniglio, when we talked to him about this and Leon sat down with him we broached the subject of how would you like this news to go out when we do put the team out and he was straight upfront and on the front foot, he wanted it to be known he’d been omitted and not rested or an injury.
“We just see it as a bit of a speed bump in the road. He’s a quality man, he’ll bounce back.”
Coniglio replaced Phil Davis and Callan Ward as skipper at the end of last season after knocking back lucrative offers from Carlton and Hawthorn to sign a mega seven-year deal.
“I think it’s the sign of a strong football club. If people don’t perform at all levels, obviously you’ve got to have hard conversations and Stephen, like I said, you couldn’t get a better person,” McCartney said.
“He’s an A-grade footballer, he’s an A-grade person, we’ll support him and he’ll bounce back strongly from this. Our focus does go into Saturday night around Melbourne and how we can beat them.”
McCartney had been wary of dropping a big name after the horror loss to Sydney last month, but the club is now desperate for a lift.
“I think it’s a short-term fix. You can get a spike for a week or two but if you don’t get to the core of it all it will present itself at the worst possible time,” McCartney said last month.
The Giants say Hayes and Miller, who both have young families, were seeking opportunities away from the game. Miller is not with the club in its Queensland hub.
“It’s something both Lenny Hayes and Brad Miller have been talking to us for a little while about a lifestyle change and unfortunately a move away from the AFL industry,” McCartney said.
“It’s been brought to a head with the COVID shutdown period this year. Both have young families and that time away from football just the realisation of the industry it’s pretty ruthless.
“And work-life balance isn’t great at the best of times. So that time with the family has brought forward a decision they want to look at other opportunities away from football to spend more time with their young families.”
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald