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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

Coniglio's talents obvious to all early: Dawson

Swan Districts 2010 premiership-winning coach Brian Dawson has paid tribute to Black Ducks product Stephen Coniglio, who will play his 200th AFL game for the GWS Giants this weekend.

Before heading to the AFL’s newest expansion club in the 2011 draft, Coniglio shot into prominence on the WAFL’s biggest stage as a 16-year-old, booting four goals from 17 possessions in a famous grand final win over Claremont.

Dawson told Sports Breakfast Coniglio’s prodigious talents were obvious to all at the club from an early age.

“I think the four goals was probably beyond anyone’s expectations, but he certainly earned his place,” Dawson said.

“We brought him into the team in the second-last qualifying round against Perth, and he kicked two goals and had about 25 possessions that day. We kept him in for the next week thinking finals might be a bit tough, might be a bit beyond him, but he did the same the next week against Peel Thunder.

“At the end of 2010, he’d actually played more finals than he had qualifying games, he’d played three finals and two qualifying games.”

The now 29-year-old has become one of the AFL’s best midfielders whole also being renowned for his off-field community work, with Dawson saying his outstanding career had not come as a surprise to anyone involved in his development.

“He had all the talent. He was a very talented cricketer back in the day … he could’ve gone down that path but he chose football and he hasn’t really looked back,” he said.

“He had some injury troubles a year or two ago that held him up a bit and people started to perhaps doubt his ability, but he certainly hasn’t lost that. I think he’s bounced back wonderfully well this year.

“It’s a credit to him that he’s stuck with the Giants all the way through. He perhaps could’ve moved but he stuck with them and signed that seven-year deal. He’s a great team man, great club man, and that was on display when he was 16 with us.”

An acclaimed sports science professor by trade, the grand final win was Dawson’s last game in charge of Swan Districts due to overseas work commitments.

He said he had nothing but fond memories of his time with the club and was still in regular contact with several people from his time there, including Coniglio.

“It doesn’t seem like 13 years ago, but it is,” he said.

“It was an outstanding day for all of us involved and for the club and for WA footy, I think. It was one of the great games of all time, it was such a tight, close affair all day.

“It was probably fitting that Andrew Krakouer got that goal just in the nick of time for us with 28 seconds on the clock.”



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