GWS star Stephen Coniglio will undergo knee surgery on Tuesday, putting the rest of his AFL season in doubt.
While it is a major blow, the damage in the top midfielder’s left knee is to the cartilage, not the anterior cruciate ligament, and he hopes to return for the finals.
The Giants expect Coniglio to be sidelined for about eight weeks and that would mean he is available in mid-September.
Therefore the Giants will have to make the finals for him to play again this season, and their current three-game losing streak means they are only a game plus percentage ahead of ninth place.
Avoiding an ACL tear is doubly significant for Coniglio, given he is the AFL’s most in-demand free agent.
A knee reconstruction would have sidelined him for 12 months, not only dealing the Giants a massive blow this season but also hurting his market value should he decide to entertain offers from several Melbourne clubs.
In announcing Coniglio’s surgery, the Giants also said the injury he suffered on Sunday was different to his previous issue.
Coniglio’s left knee was strapped after he was hurt the previous week.
He lasted less than five minutes on Sunday against Richmond at the MCG before the knee gave way in an innocuous incident.
Coniglio needed help from two trainers as he hobbled from the field and he expressed his relief on Monday that the damage was not much more significant.
“I avoided the ACL … I’m just blessed in a way, it could have been a lot worse,” Coniglio told reporters in Melbourne after consulting prominent surgeon, Professor Julian Feller.
“I’m grateful – someone was definitely looking over me.
“I hope to play in finals footy … I will give it a couple of weeks first before I say anything further.”
Once again, the restricted free agent dead-batted a question about his future beyond this season.
“I just need to make sure I can get my health right and worry about if I can contribute in a small part for the team for the rest of the season,” he said.
Coniglio added he had “no concerns whatsoever” with his knee before Sunday’s fresh injury.
Giants football boss Wayne Campbell echoed that sentiment and also spoke of their relief that Coniglio has avoided ACL damage.
“There does still remain a chance he returns to the field this season, which is great news,” Campbell said
“He’s an incredibly dedicated and professional player and there’s no doubt he’ll attack his rehab with those same qualities.
“Stephen underwent scans and assessment following last week’s game and in consultation with our medical staff and the player himself, was cleared to play yesterday.
“Yesterday’s scans showed this is an entirely new injury and separate to the incident last week.”
Coniglio joins fellow GWS stars Callan Ward, Matt de Boer and Josh Kelly on the sidelines, with the Giants facing a must-win home game this Saturday against second-place Collingwood.
© AAP 2019