Giant Taylor lights fuse for derby against ‘smug’ Swans

Shayne Hope |

The Giants’ Sam Taylor (centre) is looking forward to playing the in-form but “smug” Sydney Swans.
The Giants’ Sam Taylor (centre) is looking forward to playing the in-form but “smug” Sydney Swans.

GWS defender Sam Taylor has labelled cross-town rivals Sydney “chirpy” and “smug”, lighting the fuse for an explosive AFL derby in round eight.

Both sides take a 6-1 record into Saturday’s clash at the SCG and are set to welcome back stars, with captain Toby Greene (suspension) and All-Australian backman Taylor (concussion) returning for the Giants.

Stephen Coniglio (knee) could also be cleared to play, while former Swans skipper Luke Parker will feature for the first time at senior level this season after starring in a rare VFL appearance on his return from a broken arm.

The Swans lead the all-time derby record 16-10 after the sides split a pair of tight contests last season, and Taylor on Monday ensured another fiery encounter is on the cards.

“I do respect them. They’re a great team, they have great players and I respect how their players go about it, but there is a lot of dislike,” Taylor told reporters.

“Once we get on the field, we want to beat them, we want to smack them and come home with the win.

“They’re young, they’re firing, they’re a bit smug; it comes from a bit of that as well.

“They’re chirpy on the field. It’s fun to play against them when a team’s chirpy, up and about, and winning games.

“It’s exciting and I can’t wait to play them.”

Sydney have won three of the past four derbies since the Giants’ one-point triumph in a famous 2021 elimination final in Launceston, best remembered for Greene’s run-in with umpire Matt Stevic, which ultimately cost him a six-week suspension.

Toby Greene (left) and Sam Taylor
Toby Greene (left) and Sam Taylor will be back when the Giants take on their cross-town rivals. (Dan Himbrechts/AAP PHOTOS)

But Taylor insists GWS will take confidence from their most recent trip to the SCG, in round seven last year, when Greene snapped the winning goal in the final minute of another thrilling one-point victory.

“(The rivalry) keeps building and building and now that we’re second and third (on the ladder) there’s a lot in it,” Taylor said.

“They’re probably the benchmark at the moment, the best team.

“The way they play is very tough to play against and I’m very keen to play them.”

Taylor is set to return after a “scary” concussion – the first of his career – sustained in a collision with St Kilda’s Jack Steele in round five.

The 24-year-old had been eager to play against the Brisbane Lions on Anzac Day, but was held back by doctors.

“I need to get through training and do a bit of physical tackling and contest stuff, but I’m feeling great and ready to go,” Taylor said.