The GIANTS are taking an ‘all-club’ approach to convincing star midfielder Josh Kelly to stay with the club beyond this season, according to former skipper Callan Ward.
Kelly, who will be a restricted free agent at season's end, has the option to sign an eight-year extension with the GIANTS worth around $1million per year.
The 26-year-old midfielder has shown his worth to the GIANTS with several outstanding displays this season and stood in as skipper for two matches while captain Stephen Coniglio and Toby Greene were both missing through injury.
"The players have expressed to Josh how important he is to this footy club. I'm sure the coaches and the staff have done the same thing,” Ward said on Tuesday.
“Ever since Josh walked in the door he's been a fantastic person, a really good mate of mine, and he's a terrific leader playing some really good footy. I think he understands his importance to this football club.
“He understands how much we'd love for him to stay.”
Kelly has rediscovered the sort of form that earned him a best and fairest award and an All-Australian jacket in 2017, and has averaged 29 disposals and kicked eight goals in the past six matches.
The midfielder was best on ground in the draw with North Melbourne with 39 disposals (17 contested), five clearances, eight inside 50s, six tackles and two goals including a stunning snap in the last term off his non-preferred right boot.
His rousing display against the Kangaroos included 15 touches and a goal in the second term to help keep the GIANTS in the game when it looked like it could get away from them.
"Whether he's playing in the forward line, playing up as an extra midfielder or playing in the midfield or on a wing, wherever he goes he's playing some extremely good footy for us,” Ward said.
“The beauty of Josh is he can play anywhere, that's what we love about him.
“At the moment playing midfield he's getting some huge numbers with the ball. He's really damaging in the forward half, he's kicking goals and he's tackling as well. We need him in that balance that we've got in the midfield.”
Daniel Lloyd looked set to be the hero when he kicked two goals in the final minutes to level the scores against the Kangaroos, then had a golden chance to snatch the win with less than 15 seconds remaining.
But his kick on the run sailed wide and out of bounds on the full rather than registering at least one behind that would’ve put the GIANTS in front.
Ward said the players were quick to support Lloyd, who is widely considered one of the best kicks for goal in the team.
"It's a tough one for Lloyd because he stood up, in the last five minutes he had three kicks at goal, he kicked two of them and that last one he missed,” Ward said.
“That's his favourite kick, around the body going towards the boundary line, every time at training he kicks that one.
“He's pretty flat on himself but I love players who really want the ball in their hands in the last few minutes of the game and that's what he did, and he stood up for us in a big way.”