Why GWS turned unorthodox circuit-breaker into the norm

Rob Forsaith

Coaching from the boundary is generally an unorthodox circuit-breaker used when times are tough, but the old-school ploy has become the norm for the AFL's youngest club this season.

GWS have won five of their past six games and will tackle Port Adelaide on Sunday with plenty of self-belief, having defeated ladder-leading reigning premiers Richmond last weekend.

The Giants' resurgence started during their previous visit to Adelaide Oval, where they snapped a month-long losing streak in style against Adelaide.

It was the same game where GWS coach Leon Cameron, desperate to restore some confidence among his charges, first started calling the shots from the sideline.

Cameron and football manager Wayne Campbell both viewed it as a stopgap measure at the time.

But as player feedback and premiership points kept pouring in, Cameron and Campbell agreed there was merit in extending the experiment.

"We thought it might be for a quarter or a week or two, but the positives have certainly outweighed the negatives," Campbell told AAP.

"He might come back up at quarter-time against Port Adelaide, but at this stage it's working pretty well for everybody.

Leon Cameron has eschewed the box for a hands-on approach. Pic: Getty

"The players really enjoy the instant feedback. The leaders and younger guys have all said it's been a really positive step.

"He's always had that rapport with them during the week, now they're getting that immediately when they come off for rotations."

Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper are both big fans, having recently spoken publicly of how useful they find the direct feedback.

Sam Taylor has known no other way in his AFL career. The key defender debuted in the club's gutsy win over the Crows.

Taylor noted Cameron's presence on the boundary has helped him make the oft-tricky transition into the highest level.

"As I come off he'll give me a little tip or provide a nice confidence booster, then a rev up before I go back out," Taylor said.

"He's very good. He communicates well with everyone and gets the point across really well."

The obvious downside is Cameron loses his vantage point.

Ron Barassi marched up to the stands as Carlton's injured captain-coach in 1965 because he wanted more of a bird's-eye view of proceedings.

Coaches' boxes have since become the norm. Cameron's colleagues all generally prefer the confines of the small room filled with angst and analytics.

"Leon still ultimately makes most of the calls, but he's got full faith in his assistants to see the game and make some calls," Campbell said.

"It's given them more of an opportunity to see things and probably make more decisions, because if the senior coach is up there you ultimately lean on him a bit more."

It also means Cameron must keep a lid on at all times. There are no walls or tables for him to slam, no sound-proof glass to smother any swearing or screaming.

"Leon's not overly demonstrative in the box anyway," Campbell said.

"But since he's been down there, he's been pretty calm and relaxed and that's been rubbing off on the players."

Composure has long been Cameron's strong suit.

Four consecutive defeats in May had critics declaring the Giants' finals hopes over and the club in crisis, while Cameron's coaching capacity was questioned.

"We've got a lot of faith in Leon and always had. Particularly during that period, because he just showed a calmness and resilience that meant we were going to come out the other side," GWS chief executive Dave Matthews said.

"Leon's demeanour on the interchange bench, you can see that calmness and assuredness. He's got confidence in his plan and confidence in his players.

"He's a terrific leader and a great man manager."

Campbell believes Cameron, a former teammate at Richmond who he also spent time with in the coaches' box at the Western Bulldogs, might even be at his best while under immense scrutiny.

"Because he's able to maintain perspective and not worry about the external noise," he said.

"Which is a lot easier said than done."