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The General Shines

By Adam Curley - AFL Media  February 17, 2016 2:50 PM

Jon Patton made a sparking return in the GIANTS' first hit-out of 2016.

Jon Patton made a sparking return in the GIANTS' first hit-out of 2016.

Each game I'm doing things that I wasn't doing in the previous hit-out, so the more I can tick off as the games go past, I'm sure my form will get pretty good.

Powerful GIANTS forward Jon Patton has made a bright start to season 2016 in the club's intraclub match at Tom Wills Oval on Wednesday morning.  

Opposed to experienced defender Joel Patfull and key position prospect Jeremy Finlayson at different stages, Patton worked extremely hard to present a mobile leading option for his midfielders, but also put plenty of defensive pressure on the opposition and showed outstanding agility. 

Apart from Patton, 2013 All Australian Jeremy Cameron got plenty of the ball but let himself down with his finishing, while other options Adam Tomlinson, Rory Lobb and James Stewart were all prominent at various stages of the match, both in the air and at ground level.

Star midfielder Ryan Griffen bagged three goals before half-time and found the ball at will, while other established on ballers Dylan Shiel, Tom Scully, Stephen Coniglio and co-captain Callan Ward were also busy.

Reigning club champion Heath Shaw was at his attacking best in defence, combining well with co-captain Phil Davis, Aidan Corr and the dashing Nathan Wilson.

Draftees Jacob Hopper and Matthew Kennedy showed they'd be pushing for a senior spot in round one of the NAB Challenge with strong showings, with Matthew Flynn and Harry Himmelberg both impressive at times.

After the game, Patton admitted he was still battling to regain his confidence after two knee reconstructions.

He told reporters post-match that the games he played in late 2015 helped him more psychologically than anything else. 

"It was a bit more beneficial for my head than my body I reckon. I was out for a long time and I just really wanted to play again and be out there with my teammates," Patton said.

"I'm the fittest I've been and I'm not cramping in games like I used too which is good.

"Each game I'm doing things that I wasn't doing in the previous hit-out, so the more I can tick off as the games go past, I'm sure my form will get pretty good.

"I just need to play games and prove myself again. It's got nothing to do with how long you've been at the club or anything like that, you've got to play and play well." 

GWS coach Leon Cameron was understandably pleased to see his marking forward get through the game, and said his form was a bonus.

"I thought his (Jon Patton) first half was more outstanding than his second half, but he's definitely starting to realise that 'I can play this game again'," Cameron said.

"It's 18 months since the second knee 'reco', we got what we wanted at the end of last year, he got a couple of games and then we put him away so he could have the full pre-season. 

"There's a few little humps that he's still got to get over and that is throwing himself into those big pack marks that we knew he could do a couple of years ago.

"That's the challenge for him over the NAB Challenge series."

With the homesick Cam McCarthy still in Western Australia, Cameron has five players vying for three key forward roles in his best 22.

GWS start their NAB Challenge campaign against the Western Bulldogs at Manuka Oval in Canberra on Thursday February 25.