Cameron on track to match Fevola, Franklin feats
Seven rounds into the 2008 campaign, Lance Franklin and Brendan Fevola had laid the platform for a season which would conclude with an epic Round 22 century shootout.
Hawthorn star Franklin had wreaked havoc in the opening two months, booting 36.28, including a haul of 8.6 against Brisbane Lions and six-goal tallies against Melbourne, Adelaide and Collingwood.
Fevola, who would fall one major short of the ton after bagging his 99th goal with five minutes left in the Blues-Hawks clash, had 31.14 after seven rounds.
Fast-forward to 2019 and GWS spearhead Jeremy Cameron has had the same number of scoring shots as Fevola that year - 45 - to Round 7.
Cameron, who has been crunched into short-priced favouritism for this year's Coleman Medal, is tracking a similar path to Franklin and Fevola 11 years ago.
The 26-year-old, who has been the Giants' leading goalkicker for the past seven seasons, has 30.15 from seven games after a haul of 6.1 against St Kilda on Saturday.
"In his first few years he kicked over 50 goals a year playing in a team that never had inside-50s," former teammate and ex-GWS assistant coach Luke Power said.
"So if anyone is capable of doing it, he's talented enough. Now with the consistency he is displaying, it makes him an even bigger chance."
Cameron is reeling in more marks (7.7 per match) than Franklin (6.9) and Fevola (5.6) managed during the same period in 2008, while his average of 16.7 disposals is higher than both the current Swan (16.3) and former Blue (11.1).
The absence of Rory Lobb (Fremantle) and Jon Patton (injured) from the Giants' forward line has increased the focus on Cameron and improved his chances of joining the 100 club.
Harry Himmelberg (29 goals), Stephen Coniglio (24) and Zac Langdon (24) were the other GWS players to kick above 20 majors last season, behind Cameron's tally of 46.
Tellingly, Cameron has been the Giants' target on almost one in three forward entries (31.6 per cent) this year.
That figure has increased considerably from recent seasons, with Cameron targeted as little as 13 per cent in 2017, when Patton and Toby Greene matched his effort of 45 goals.
Cameron ranked as the AFL's top forward target in 2013 when he was used on 38.9 per cent of forward entries and has only been a more prominent option in one other year (32.6 per cent in 2015).
"In the early existence of the Giants, the ball just didn't come down there enough to see what he could really do," Power said.
"He was still kicking bags that year, but imagine if the ball had been coming down a lot.
"He's a fair athlete, big, strong and quick. Now he's starting to realise he can do it for long lengths of the game."
With the Giants one game clear of fifth - behind only Geelong and Collingwood - Cameron is likely to have at least one final to improve on his regular season record this year.
At his current average of 4.3 goals per game, the left-footer would hit 99 majors from 23 matches - effectively week one of finals.
"Right now he is actually playing more like he did in the first couple of years," ex-GWS senior assistant coach Mark Williams said.
"The people around me that know Jeremy, we are all saying 'he's back'. He's attacking the ball, going towards the ball as well as running back to goal.
"His ability to make something out of nothing, his understanding of how to kick the ball from different distances and different angles, is amazing.
"I can recall him taking a mark from a kick out, getting a mark at centre half-forward on the way forward and then kicking a goal. His running ability is second to none when it comes to a tall.
"He's got distance and speed and is just a really dynamic and difficult match-up for anyone."
Port Adelaide premiership coach Williams, now in charge of VFL club Werribee, said he had no doubt Cameron was capable of cracking the ton.
"A lot of ball goes his way and he's a great kick for goal, so why not? The amount of times GWS get the ball inside 50 is pretty high and it just relies, obviously, on supply," he said.
"He's got some others around him that are kicking goals as well, so they can't all just zone off onto him.
"He can kick clumps of goals. He might not kick any for a half but he can kick five in the next quarter."
Few at Docklands the night Franklin and Fevola went toe-to-toe will forget one of the great shootouts of the modern era.
The Blues forward finished with 7.3, while Franklin kicked 4.5.
Hundreds of supporters wearing brown and gold mobbed then Hawks hero Franklin when he bagged his 100th goal late in the opening term, drilling a set shot and jumping into the arms of teammate Jarryd Roughead.
Carlton spearhead Fevola finished one short, booting his 99th major at the 28-minute mark of the last quarter.
Another factor in Cameron's favour is that GWS plays 10 of its remaining 15 fixtures against sides outside the current top eight, facing Gold Coast (14th) and Hawthorn (13th) twice and meeting bottom two Carlton (Round 9) and Sydney (Round 20).
Should Cameron match his career average against the Giants' remaining opponents, he would finish with 72 goals, however those numbers include the club's early years when wins were rare.
The Giants round out their campaign with games against the Swans, Hawks, Western Bulldogs and Suns, who have collectively conceded an average of 84.4 points per game this year.
Could Cameron make history as the first player to reach the coveted 100-mark at Metricon Stadium in Round 23?