GREATER Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron has backed Rhys Palmer to fill the boots of suspended Steve Johnson in Saturday night's preliminary final against the Western Bulldogs.
The former Fremantle Docker is the first change the coach has made to his line-up since the round 22 clash with Fremantle at Spotless Stadium.
The 27-year-old has not played a senior game since the Giants' loss to Collingwood in round 16 but he has been playing well in the reserves, starring in the grand final win a fortnight ago.
Cameron said it was hard to compare the two but said Palmer would do a decent job as Johnson's replacement.
"Steve has obviously had a terrific year in terms of hitting the scoreboard, and helping our young forwards out, but Rhys does that as well,” the coach said.
"We feel as though his hardness at the footy and ability to put pressure on is going to come to the fore, which is exactly what we need.
"It's actually his first final, but he's played for eight or nine years, and he's got over 120 games under his belt, so he doesn't get overawed by big games.
"There's no doubt he's hungry to play and put his best foot forward.”
If the Giants do beat the Bulldogs to reach their first AFL grand final next week, then the likelihood is that Johnson would come back in for Palmer.
Cameron said he had not spoken to Palmer about that possibility because other injuries might occur tonight.
"We definitely haven't touched on that because anything can happen,” he said.
"We saw in the final last week with the (Sydney) Swans, how ferocious they were at the footy, (how) committed they were to the contest and getting the job done, has forced a change.
"There'll be some casualties on the weekend because everyone will go that hard it won't be funny.
"He's just got to go about his business, and if he plays his role, and we're lucky enough to get through, we'll look at that next week.
"He's not worried about next week, he's determined to come in and do everything he can as part of the 22, to get the job done.”
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