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AFL seconds 'The Fixer' to ease Giants' problems

The AFL has seconded an international high-performance expert dubbed ‘‘The Unconventional Fixer’’ to prepare a report on Greater Western Sydney’s training program and personnel.

Having lost their high-performance boss John Quinn to a career-ending illness on the eve of the 2014 pre-season, the Giants have not yet replaced him and have conceded that the development of their young squad has suffered as a result.

The AFL is understood to have funded Doctor Fergus Connolly’s 10-day secondment to observe and review the Giants program. Connolly left the club on Monday and is now set to take over the sport science program at the San Francisco 49ers.

With the struggling Giants’ coaching line-up and player development under fierce scrutiny, the club is understood to have been offered and accepted the AFL’s move to review its high-performance program.

Since Quinn was hospitalised over summer with a rare form of encephalitis, his assistant, Andrew Barnett, has run the training program with the club’s relatively inexperienced group of high-performance staff. The club has requested extra AFL funding at the end of this season.

While franchise forward Jeremy Cameron on Tuesday denied reports he had deliberately stalled contract talks to field offers from Melbourne clubs, the Giants remain under pressure to retain their elite young squad representing almost an entire team of first-round draft picks.

Fairfax Media revealed on Monday that list manager Stephen Silvagni would assist defensive coach Chad Cornes for the remainder of the season on a part-time basis while welfare boss Craig Lambert would boost the midfield coaching team. Dermott Brereton will return to his previous part-time role as a forwards coach.

The Giants secured Connolly through his connections with the AFL’s Michael Poulton, who recently crossed to the game’s head office from the AFL Coaches Association.

Connolly has worked extensively in international rugby, originally with Munster and more recently with the Welsh national team. He has experience in the Premier League, most recently with Liverpool, and last year was interviewed by Collingwood in that club’s search to replace David Buttifant.

The Giants remained tight-lipped on Tuesday about Connolly’s forthcoming review but his report will also be looked over by the AFL with both parties cognisant of the pressing need to boost the club’s high-performance team and appoint a senior sport science boss at the fledgling club still searching for recognition.

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