In the NFL, pre-season games are the relative equivalent of touch football, but in the AFL, the players only know one speed.
The latest victim of the pre-season mayhem is GWS midfielder Tim Taranto. He will miss the first half of the season after dislocating his right shoulder so badly during a pre-season match against Sydney Swans that he will require surgery.
Taranto had the best year of his 63-game AFL career in 2019, earning his club’s best and fairest honours.
He played without pause, never missing a game in 2018 and 2019, but now faces the unwelcome prospect of waiting for half the season to contribute to his club’s quest for absolution for the 2019 Grand Final debacle.
The Grand Final rematch is in Round 7 on May 2 and there is no possibility that Taranto will be ready by then. There is an outside chance he could be fit and ready when the Giants play the Tigers in Round 15 on June 27.
Some consideration was given to taking a non-surgical approach to Taranto’s injury, but according to GWS football manager Jason McCartney, “We could have gone a non-surgical route but considering he hasn’t had any history of shoulder injuries and his young age, it was decided that surgery was the best option to ensure a full recovery.”
The one bright side is that Taranto will not miss the entire season, but his effectiveness might not fully return before finals, assuming the Giants qualify and delicate shoulder joints need time to recover fully, so Taranto might not rise to his past proficiency until 2021.
GWS open against Geelong Cats on March 21. Their final pre-season hit-out is Sunday coming agasint Richmond and this game has all the earmarks of a ferocious battle, a battle that hopefully will not encompass further serious injury to either club.