Taylor ready to lead young GWS back line

Sam Taylor (l) will lead an inexperienced GWS backline against Richmond in the AFL.
Sam Taylor (l) will lead an inexperienced GWS backline against Richmond in the AFL.

Young gun Sam Taylor, having schooled himself throughout summer by studying some of the AFL's best defenders, is ready to marshal GWS's inexperienced backline in arguably his greatest test yet.

Taylor will play his 43rd game when the Giants tackle reigning premiers Richmond at Marvel Stadium on Saturday night, when he will also assume the role of defensive general.

The injury-enforced omission of veteran Lachie Keeffe, who has joined Phil Davis and a stack of GWS backmen on the sidelines, means Taylor's responsibility has grown since last week's dominant performance against Essendon that included a game-high 12 intercepts.

The 22-year-old has been one of GWS's most consistent and important contributors throughout a 4-4 start, playing on the likes of Lance Franklin, Taylor Walker and Nat Fyfe.

Tom Lynch or Jack Riewoldt will be next.

Taylor can't wait, having missed last year's grand-final rematch against the Tigers because of a bacterial infection that resulted in a long stint in hospital plus the loss of 10 kilograms and - at his worst - - the capacity to walk.

"I've played on both Lynch and Riewoldt, definitely looking forward to it. They're both great players," Taylor told AAP.

"I find Lynch quite hard to play on. He's so strong and dominant, runs really well.

"Riewoldt is one of the smartest forwards going around, he just has great timing and footy smarts. A bit like Toby Greene, they just know the right time to lead and sometimes you just can't stop them."

Taylor has spoken with Keeffe and coach Leon Cameron this week, with the latter urging the West Australian to keep things simple while directing raw teammates Isaac Cumming, Connor Idun and Jack Buckley.

"I'll definitely have to talk a bit more," Taylor said.

"If we can work as a nice fluid backline then we'll go into the game feeling pretty comfortable and confident about beating their forwards."

Taylor ranks fifth in the league for intercepts this season.

Essendon great Matthew Lloyd told the Nine Network Taylor would be heralded as the AFL's "best young defender" if he played for a Melbourne-based club.

Taylor is reaping the rewards of a long preseason after his nasty health scare, having made a point to be more studious.

"I watched a fair bit of Darren Glass and Luke McPharlin during the off-season, tried to hone in on how they played," he said.

"Also looked at stars right now, like Darcy Moore and Steven May; how they're so dominant in the air.

"I just want to get better and one way to do that is study whomever is the best."

Australian Associated Press