TIM Taranto has outlined his leadership ambitions on Wednesday after announcing a two-year contract extension with Greater Western Sydney.
The former number two draft pick’s current deal wasn’t due to expire until the end of next season, but the 21-year-old is now tied to the Giants until at least the end of 2022.
Now in his third season, Taranto has had to take on extra responsibility following the departures of Dylan Shiel, Tom Scully and Will Setterfield during last year’s trade period, and he has handled the increased midfield minutes in impressive fashion, averaging 28.3 possessions, 6.7 tackles and 5.3 clearances per game this year.
Taranto’s ability to take his game to another level has been incredibly important given the absence of fellow midfield bull Callan Ward for close to the majority of the season with a knee injury, as well as top-liners Stephen Coniglio and Josh Kelly, and midfield stopper Matt de Boer.
A part of the Giants’ emerging leaders’ program, Taranto said the absence of his star teammates has helped fast-track his development, and that he aspires to take on an official leadership role in the future.
“That’s something I look forward to doing in the next few years, hopefully,” Taranto said.
“A few of the younger boys are learning some skills and having a bit of input in how the boys go about it from week-to-week, (and) I enjoy doing that.”
Taranto and fellow young gun Jacob Hopper have excelled this season despite being without Ward, Coniglio and Kelly, with the pair meeting weekly to keep each other in check.
“We have a little chat over lunch or whatever just to talk about how we are going, what we expect from ourselves.”
“We’ve got a really great relationship and that’s grown immensely this year, so it’s been really good to work closely with him.”
A midfield beast in his own right, Taranto has always relished the opportunity to take on the League’s premier on-ballers.
Saturday’s clash against Sydney at Giants Stadium will see him presented with another challenging assignment in the form of Swans co-captains Josh Kennedy and Luke Parker.
“They’re two bulls and they have been the best at it in the game for a long time,” said Taranto.
“When I was growing up I watched those two a lot and really enjoyed how they played.”
“Once I got my opportunity to play against them I tried to learn as much off them and try to be them.”