GWS midfielder Stephen Coniglio has ended speculation about his AFL future by declaring himself a Giant for life by signing a massive seven-year contract extension.
A vice-captain and foundation player, Coniglio had been linked to some Melbourne clubs but will be 32 by the time his new contract expires in 2026.
It’s a massive boost for GWS as they prepare to enter a fourth straight finals campaign, as the 25-year-old West Australian is a hugely respected and admired figure at the club.
Giants CEO David Matthews described Coniglio’s decision as a seminal moment in the history of the AFL’s youngest club who are in their eighth season.
“We’re thrilled to have secured Stephen’s signature on a long-term deal,” Matthews said.
“Stephen is an integral part of our football club and has been since day one. He’s a star on the field but perhaps, more importantly, he’s a man of great integrity and care off it.”
Taken with pick two in the 2001 draft, Coniglio has played 133 games and was enjoying his best season until a knee injury in Round 17, which has him battling to be fit for the finals.
“This club has become home for me and in the end the culture and the opportunity are undeniable,” Coniglio said.
“The whole family element around the club really resonates with me, it’s not just the guys in the locker room or the coaches, it’s the whole organisation.
“I’m just thrilled to be a Giant for life and keen to continue on our path to becoming an even greater club.”
Among the clubs interested in him were Carlton and Hawthorn.
Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson confirmed last week he had spoken to Coniglio.
While Hawthorn has had a good track record in recent years of landing big-name recruits such as Tom Mitchell and Jaeger O’ Meara, they and other suitors were unable to lure Coniglio away from GWS.
Giants coach Leon Cameron never wavered through the season in his belief Coniglio would stay, though some outside the club interpreted the length of time taken to make the decision as ominous for GWS.
“There is no doubt our players walk taller when he’s by their side and his focus on giving back to the game is extraordinary,” Cameron said.
“By pledging his long-term future to the Giants he’s speaking volumes as to where this club is headed and we’re delighted he’ll be central to that for many years to come.”
While Coniglio was probably the most sought after and scrutinised player of those coming off contract this year, the attention hasn’t affected his form, which was outstanding prior to his injury.
He has missed the last six matches and on Monday said he was more unlikely than likely to play in Saturday week’s home elimination final against the Western Bulldogs.
© AAP 2019