Greater Western Sydney star Lachie Whitfield has undergone appendix surgery with coach Leon Cameron hopeful the influential speedster will be right to return if the Giants make the AFL grand final.
Cameron confirmed on Wednesday the 25-year-old midfield ace will be sidelined for at least a week, ruling him out of Saturday's preliminary final against Collingwood at the MCG.
It was the second major setback for GWS in less than 24 hours after Toby Greene was controversially suspended for one match for making unreasonable contact to Brisbane onballer Lachie Neale's eye region.
The Giants have challenged Greene's ban with the appeal to be heard on Thursday.
Cameron told reporters Whitfield was hospitalised on Tuesday after complaining of stomach pain.
He said the club's medical staff thought the issue was unrelated to the knock in the back he copped last Saturday.
"We're confident it will just be one week," Cameron told reporters.
"Clearly the recovery from today to Saturday is too short so he can't play this weekend.
"But we'll be doing everything in our power to win on Saturday, so it gives Lachie an opportunity to play next weekend.
"Lachie will be doing everything in his power to recover really well and put himself in the frame to play next Saturday if we progress.
"I'm not going to sit here and deny that we're flat that he's not playing
"It is what it is, these things happen. His health is more important than any game of footy."
Whitfield was a 2018 All-Australian half-back flanker, the Giants best and fairest for that year and he is averaging 27 disposals a game in 2019.
His blistering speed and invariably good ball use mean he's widely regarded as one of the most dangerous players in the game.
Cameron praised the toughness of Whitfield, who can also play on the wing and up forward.
"I think the next 48 hours has got a fair bit to play out on Lachie's recovery, but one thing I do know is that Lachie is tough, he's hard," Cameron said.
"There's going to be 44 players that run out on Saturday and most of them are probably about 90 per cent. It's the end of a gruelling year.
"But Lachie is no different, he finds a way to play with little setbacks."
Australian Associated Press