GIANTS coach Leon Cameron hopes Jonathon Patton's match-winning six-goal haul against Port Adelaide gives him the confidence boost he needs to become one of the league's best key forwards.
Patton was a dominant figure in the GIANTS' hard-fought 31-point win over the Power in Canberra on Saturday, despite being held goalless in the opening term, and slotted six straight majors – an equal career-high - for the home side.
The 23-year-old kicked 38 goals from 23 games last season but missed the past two weeks after copping a hip injury in round one, and Cameron said post-match that he's looking forward to the day Patton realises his true potential.
"There's no doubt there's so much more improvement in Jon, he's got to believe in himself and what he can do at AFL level," he said.
"There's still a way to go but his attack on the ball in the first five minutes was exactly what we need, and then he became a focal point and used his marking strength.
"Not everything is going to go your way and you're not always going to hit the scoreboard, it's how you go about it when things aren't going your way.
"He's made some significant ground off the back of some injuries, but there's so much more improvement in him."
The GIANTS had to work extremely hard to overcome a spirited effort from the Power for the first three quarters, especially with a host of midfielders missing through injury.
Vice-captain Stephen Coniglio (ankle), Ryan Griffen (ankle) and Brett Deledio (calf) were all unavailable, along with Tendai Mzungu (hamstring) and Matt de Boer, who returned through the NEAFL this week after his own significant hamstring injury.
In their absence, it was left to Jacob Hopper (13 games), Matt Kennedy (five) and Tim Taranto (four) to chip in to help the likes of Callan Ward, Josh Kelly, Tom Scully and Dylan Shiel against the Power.
"The sign of a (good) squad is that when you have a few injuries, guys come in and play their roles," Cameron said.
"I was really pleased that Jacob (Hopper) took another step, and Tim Taranto and Matty Kennedy definitely took another step in the right direction, which puts pressure on guys week in, week out.
"They want to play AFL footy which is great, but I was really pleased with those three boys.
"I challenged the guys at the start of the game to inspire their older teammates, and play the footy that we know they can play, and I thought they had some really good moments throughout the 120 minutes of footy."