Coniglio, 25, was at the centre of the most important moment in the club’s short history when he shunned mammoth offers from Carlton and Hawthorn to pledge his future to the Giants with a seven-year contract extension.
It was arguably the emotional spark for their stunning run through September, which culminated in their first grand final appearance, where they lost by 89 points to a rampant Richmond.
We want success at this footy club with not only the AFL but netball and the AFLW as well.
Coniglio had pushed hard to overcome a knee injury and play but ruled himself out, and was in tears post-match at the MCG. He said the fact that he was wearing a suit – not boots – that day may assist the Giants moving forward.
“The guys have come back in really good spirits. Richmond were just too good on the day,” he said.
“We know we’re building something really special. If we keep continuing and keep rocking up we’ll give ourselves the best chance the next time that happens. The fact that I didn’t play probably helps with that … [it] might help with the optimism and guys that maybe need a little help around that.
“For me, trying to get up for the game and then making the call not to play, and then seeing your teammates and close mates go down by so much and thinking, was it selfish that I actually didn’t play?
“There were a range of emotions, but it was a great experience and one that the next time we get back there, we’ll handle a lot better.”
Asked what sort of captain he wants to be, Coniglio said: “A winning one, first”.
“We want success at this footy club with not only the AFL but netball and the AFLW as well. [I want to] continue on the already strong culture that we have, an environment where guys want to come and want to get better and staff included.”
Coniglio’s appointment comes during an off-season of upheaval for GWS, who have lost senior assistant coach Matthew Nicks to Adelaide, while longtime football boss Wayne Campbell was sacked following a dispute with chief executive Dave Matthews.
Coniglio paid tribute to Davis and Ward, who guided the Giants through their difficult formative years and laid a strong platform which has enabled them to reach the finals for the last four seasons in a row.
“We’ve both had a great time over these eight years, we’ve enjoyed every moment – maybe not every moment, but most moments,” Ward said. “I’d like to thank the Giants football club for the opportunity back in 2012 when we were 21 years old and had no idea what we were doing.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.
Sam McClure won the Clinton Grybas rising star award at the AFL media association awards in 2015.