Giants ‘missing home’ and struggling with demands of 2020: Taranto

Homesick midfielder Tim Taranto says Greater Western Sydney have failed to adjust to the extraordinary circumstances of the season, as the Giants' star-studded midfield aims for redemption with the season on the line.

Giants chief David Matthews declared at the onset of the pandemic the league’s youngest club was “built on resilience”, but the Giants' reigning club champion has conceded they have struggled to cope with the challenges.

Tim Taranto says the Giants have not adjusted to 2020 as well as other clubs.Credit:Getty

The Giants have not been home in seven weeks and were among the six clubs to quarantine in the Perth hub. Geelong, however, have been away for longer and also spent time in Western Australia but have won six on the trot to become one of the leading premiership contenders.

"It's probably we haven't adjusted as well as other teams in this different year. That's why we've been inconsistent," Taranto said, dismissing notions last year's heavy grand final defeat had scarred the side.

It had been thought life on the road would suit the Giants more than other clubs given the large portion of their list moved to Sydney from interstate to pursue their AFL careers. This has not proven true.

"[I'm] definitely missing home," Taranto said. "But hopefully it's [going home] not for another six weeks."

As part of the AFL's return to play protocols, clubs have not been able to train as they would in previous seasons, with restrictions on group sizes for contact work.

The smaller breaks between games has also impacted the ability for teams to train. The Giants' main session leading into their shock loss to last-placed Adelaide was just 15 minutes, Taranto said.

Taranto's form has dropped since his best and fairest win last year but said the new training protocols had a greater effect on his form rather than a shoulder reconstruction, which sidelined him until round seven.

"Pretty inconsistent, to be honest, I haven't had much of an impact this season," Taranto said. "I'd probably say that's more to do with the season we're in, a lack of training more so than my shoulder."

Taranto is part of a Giants midfield which coach Leon Cameron said "again let us down" after the defeat to the Crows.

It had been thought the return of Stephen Coniglio and Callan Ward would bolster their on-ball brigade but that has not eventuated.

The club has built its run of four straight finals campaigns on its clearance work but that has suffered this year, their differentials plummeting from second to 12th – so too their ability to score from them (third to seventh).

Even with the adjustment to take into account this year's shorter games, their four prime midfield movers – Coniglio, Taranto, Josh Kelly and Jacob Hopper – are all averaging fewer possessions than last year, according to numbers from Champion Data.

"We haven't been up to the standard compared to last year," Taranto said. "We've had some good footy but just really inconsistent. We haven't gelled together and played our best footy for long enough."

The Giants have lost to sides ranked 18th (Adelaide), 17th (North Melbourne) and 15th (Sydney) but Taranto says they can beat any team on their day, as wins against Geelong, Richmond and Collingwood attest.

"If we can find our way into the top eight we know we can do some damage. I'm pretty sure there'll be some other teams that don't want us in there," Taranto said. "If we can get into the top eight we've got confidence and belief that anything can happen in the top eight, especially this year – away from home, everyone's up in Queensland, it's going to be an interesting finals series. [I'm] still optimistic about that."

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