Fired-up GWS determined for AFL response

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Greater Western Sydney coach Mark McVeigh gave his team a public dressing down following their insipid Sydney derby performance but will back in much the same group to respond against an in-form Essendon.

The Giants' 73-point hammering by the Swans was the worst of their four consecutive losses and they will have to dramatically flip their form around on Saturday to match a Bombers side that have won four of their past five.

Essendon (7-12) are out of finals contention following their disastrous 2-10 start to the season but are now one of the form teams of the competition, and will be bolstered by the return of stars Darcy Parish and Andrew McGrath.

Parish is back from a calf injury that has sidelined him for a month, while McGrath returns after a bout of COVID-19.

However Jye Caldwell, a former GWS first-round draft pick, will miss with his own fresh calf concern.

While the Bombers brushed aside the lowly North Melbourne in a comfortable 48-point victory last week, they lost the clearances 42-22 and were smashed at centre bounces 20-6.

Essendon coach Ben Rutten is hopeful Parish will help with the Bombers' contested work.

"We don't expect him to be at his absolute best. But he'll certainly be at a level where he can contribute strongly," Rutten told reporters on Thursday.

The Giants (5-14) have been too good for the Bombers in recent contests with a streak that stretches back to 2019 and includes winning the past three clashes by an average of just six points.

Former Essendon star and current Giants interim coach McVeigh will be looking for much-improved effort and intensity across the ground, but especially in midfield where they were soundly beaten by Sydney.

The on-ball brigade will welcome the return of co-captain Stephen Coniglio who missed the derby due to soreness, but has enjoyed a fine campaign after two years of form and fitness issues.

They will also expect more from Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper, who are reportedly both considering moves at the end of this season and two of 14 players McVeigh suggested had not "fought right through to the end" against the Swans.

But Taranto was on Friday ruled out of the match with a delayed concussion and replaced in the team by Lachie Ash.

While GWS are certain to miss the finals for just the second time in seven seasons, McVeigh is adamant they have plenty to play for.

"We are playing for something greater than ourselves and that is supporters, personal pride at times but also the Giants football club," McVeigh said.

"You've always got to put that in the frame more than yourself, and I'll be looking for players that are looking to play for something greater than themselves."

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