In-form defender Sam Taylor will undergo ankle surgery and miss the next eight rounds of the AFL season, delivering yet another blow to GWS’s injury-ravaged back line.
Taylor becomes the latest key player to join the Giants’ incredibly long injury list.
The club will also be unable to call on Toby Greene, Stephen Coniglio, Jesse Hogan, Phil Davis, Harry Perryman, Matt de Boer, Braydon Preuss, Brent Daniels and Lachie Keeffe for Saturday’s Gabba clash with Brisbane.
Taylor’s absence will be particularly hard to cover given he has been marshalling an inexperienced defence in the absence of fellow key defenders Davis and Keeffe.
GWS coach Leon Cameron may consider shifting key forward Jeremy Finlayson into defence, although that would mean stretching a forward line that is already missing several key targets.
Taylor struck career-best form in recent weeks, having recovered from a painful and debilitating bacterial infection that ruined his 2020 season.
The backman, who lost 10 kilograms and the capacity to walk during the low point of last year’s struggles, has played a crucial role in helping GWS climb into eighth spot after 10 rounds.
The 22-year-old has regularly taken the opposition’s best forward throughout this season.
Taylor hurt his ankle in the third quarter of the Giants’ upset win over West Coast but returned to the field and restricted Josh Kennedy to a single goal.
Monday’s follow-up scans revealed syndesmosis damage.
“It’s tough news after a brilliant start to 2021, particularly after everything he endured last year,” GWS chief medico Cullan Ball said.
“To play out the game with that injury just cements what a brave player he is.”
Fellow young defender Jack Buckley also hurt his ankle on Sunday but has been cleared of any serious damage.
The club is upbeat Buckley will tackle the Lions, although he will need to prove his fitness in coming days.
“For those two guys to come back on when they probably should be off the ground, it was a wonderful sign in a terrific win,” GWS coach Leon Cameron said.
“If they’re not (right to play), we’ll find some players who’ve really put their hand up in the VFL.
“Our VFL was undermanned as well … we’re a bit banged up.”