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A Cog in the GIANTS Machine

Alison Zell  May 8, 2015 2:32 PM

Stephen Coniglio on 50 Games Stephen Coniglio sits down with GIANTS TV ahead of his 50th game against the Hawks in round six at Spotless Stadium.
You dream of playing AFL footy and then to come to such a different, non-established club, to come and build together right from the get-go has been one of the most exciting points.

Stephen Coniglio was just 17 when he moved almost 4000km across the country to chase his AFL dream.

Pick number two in the 2011 NAB AFL Draft, Coniglio left his tight-knit family in Perth to move to Sydney and become part of the core group that would build the GWS GIANTS Football Club.

Three-and-a-half years later, the now 21-year-old is getting set to play his 50th AFL game against the Hawks at Spotless Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

“It’s been incredible. It’s been a great journey for me personally and I think I speak on behalf of a lot of the other boys, they probably share the same thing,” he said.

“You dream of playing AFL footy and then to come to such a different, non-established club, to come and build together right from the get-go has been one of the most exciting points.

“The friendships you build and the memories that you’ll have forever has definitely been memorable for me over the past three-and-a-half, four years.

“It’s a good little milestone. I’m not the first one to get there out of the boys but it’s definitely a great milestone, especially at home this week against a good quality side.

“It’s going to be a good occasion.”

It’s a familiar story, but when Coniglio and his fellow original draftees arrived at the club, it was barely a club at all.

They trained in multiple locations all across Sydney, with no one home base to call their own, but Coniglio has seen the club grow both on and off-field since those times.

“It’s looking a lot different now, the club rooms especially, to when we first got here,” Coniglio said.

“We loved driving out to Blacktown every day and training and doing weights out there. We knew nothing different.

“It was all new to us but it’s definitely transformed in terms of coaching and players and getting such quality players now I think is a real main change in the club.”

And it’s not only the club that has grown.

“I’ve grown up a little bit I think,” he said with a smile.

“It was the first time I moved out of home obviously, I was only 17 at the time so I’m a bit more domesticated I think around the house - I’m still looking after Jonny Patton so he’s got a little while to go.”

A talented all-round sportsman, it’s no secret Coniglio could have been wearing a baggy green instead of a GIANTS jumper after he set all sorts of cricket records representing his home state as a 14-year-old.

A natural leader, Coniglio’s class has always been apparent, but injuries have interrupted his promising AFL career.

“He’s an integral part of our squad and he’s a great young leader of our footy club,” his coach Leon Cameron said.

“He’s had a few setbacks with his injuries along the journey but it’s just great to see him get to that 50-game milestone and we look forward to seeing what he can produce on Saturday afternoon.”

After starting as the substitute in round one, Coniglio was close to best-on-ground in round two, shutting down Melbourne captain Nathan Jones and picking up 26 touches and eight tackles himself.

With injuries hopefully behind him, on Saturday Coniglio will become the 11th GIANT to notch up the 50-game milestone.

But it hasn’t always been about the on-field results over his time at the club with the midfielder also kept busy away from footy, studying and working as an Australia Post AFL Multicultural Ambassador with the communities of Western Sydney.

He said the off-field side of life as a footballer has been just as enjoyable.

“There’s been some big losses in there, some good times but some bad times as well but we’re all about rectifying that.

“We’ve had a positive start to this season and we’re looking to build on that into the future.

“We’ve had those losses but the little wins or big wins along the way will make it a bit more memorable.

“Just the little stuff along the way - the behind-the-scenes stuff, maybe not always on game day or anything, but away from the club and just spending time with your close mates has just been a great time.”

And his goals for the future?

“It’s a tough question, I’m not too sure what I’m doing tomorrow yet,” he said with a laugh.

“As long as I’m happy and healthy and my close friends and teammates are, that’s all I’m looking at at the moment ... and it’d be nice to get a little win on Saturday.”

The GIANTS take on Hawthorn at Spotless Stadium on Saturday at 4.35pm with a bonus half-time and post-match performance by Justice Crew. Click here to get your tickets now.