Cameron is confident Mumford’s injury is not career threatening, however for the rest of 2015 at least, the AFL’s most promising club must learn to win without their most important player.
This time last week, finals football was shaping as a growing reality for the exciting Giants, but in one devastating afternoon against Collingwood at the MCG — the club has been decimated by long-term injuries to four of its stars.
Mumford goes in for surgery on Wednesday, while Joel Patfull had to catch the train back from Melbourne to Sydney, unable to fly with broken ribs and a punctured lung that will keep him out for 6-8 weeks.
Captain Phil Davis (ankle) will miss up to eight weeks and Stephen Coniglio at least three matches with a shoulder.
Ominously for the western Sydney club, the Giants lost all five games Mumford was absent from last season.
Cameron refused to be drawn on finals talk but he’s confident his fifth placed side can continue to win games without their main man — starting with Saturday night against North Melbourne and the game’s best ruckman Todd Goldstein.
“I’m worried about this weekend’s game,” said Cameron when pressed on whether his team’s finals’ hopes had been dashed.
“Even before these guys became injured I never looked too far ahead. Footy is a week to week prospect for us — we’re not in a position to state we’re a finals team yet.
“Do I expect us to still win more games? Yep. And do I expect a really competitive performance and to take it up to the Kangaroos on Saturday? I expect that to happen and I’m confident it will happen.”
Mumford will be operated on by Sydney ankle specialist Dr Peter Lam — who has treated Newcastle Knights captain Kurt Gidley in the past and notably resurrected the career of former NRL forward Cameron Ciraldo, who in 2009 broke his fibula in three places in a sickening injury.
Cameron is confident Mumford, who turns 29 next month, won’t be hampered long-term — despite the magnitude of such a surgery for a big man in his position.
“I’m confident the surgeon will get it right. If he doesn’t we’ll have to come after him,” joked Cameron.
“I’m confident he’ll get back to where he was.”
Young Andrew Phillips with just 10 games under his belt is a leading contender to replace Mumford in the ruck.
However, Cameron also tossed up Tom Downie and Rory Lobb as possible replacements.
The coach said fans should wait and see if the young players can grab their opportunities before throwing in the towel for 2015.
“You don’t know until you actually start playing games without him,” said Cameron.
“But you acknowledge it’s a setback with Shane and Phil and Joel because they’re leaders with our footy club.
“These lads that come in, they’ve got a great opportunity against the Kangaroos who are fighting for our spot.”