Sheedy looks beyond 2012 as GWS enter AFL

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    As most of Greater Western Sydney’s squad steel themselves for their debut AFL seasons, coach Kevin Sheedy is busy preparing for his 41st year in the league.

    With 251 AFL/VFL games played and 634 coached, he’s well-versed in challenges.

    So does the enormity of this year compare to anything that has come before?

    “You look back and say well probably `92-93 will be the one period, when we actually had a lot of players of youth coming into that `93 grand final,” Sheedy says, thinking back to a young Essendon premiership team including the likes of Dustin Fletcher, James Hird, Ricky Olarenshaw, Mark Mercuri and Joe Misiti.

    “They were very inexperienced guys.

    “They were surrounded by some experienced guys – but our centre line was very inexperienced.”

    He’s not about to draw too many parallels at this early stage though, quickly pointing out most of the GWS squad will have only had one pre-season to draw on.

    While Sheedy hopes his young charges can one day reach the heights of the Baby Bombers, the 64-year-old won’t see it happen this year.

    GWS will start the season as underdogs in a way never seen before.

    With a long-term view of success and a focus on youth, GWS aren’t expected to do much in 2012. Many pundits are confident they won’t win a game.

    Sheedy, honest and freewheeling in a style now unsighted amongst his counterparts, is uncharacteristically guarded about the side’s 2012 prospects – starting with a stand-alone clash with Sydney.

    “Some of the press guys … are pre-empting things where we’re not quite sure what will happen,” he said.

    “So I’ve got to be very judgmental about what I talk about. At the moment we’re playing the Swans and you’ve got bookmakers offering 99 points (start).

    “Wow! That means that we’re going to get beaten by 15 or 16 goals in the first game.

    “We’ll just take the season as it comes.

    “It’s hard to say now what you could be doing in three months’ time.”

    For the Giants, it’s not so much about three months but three years down the track.

    But like selling climate change solutions in a 24-hour news cycle, it won’t always be easy marketing the potential of an untried squad as GWS attempt to stake their turf in rugby league heartland.

    “It’s about the patience of bringing on young players. I hope the Giants’ fans give these kids a chance,” said Sheedy.

    “Fitness-wise it takes quite a long time for a young person leaving Year 12 to build an engine to play AFL.

    “And we’re still making judgments on them – it’ll take all year to find out how good these kids will or will not be.”

    Remarkably, some of the greatest expectations are of Israel Folau, a foreigner to the game until 2010.

    Folau, then aged 21 and one of the most dominant rugby league players in the world, was paid a poultice by the AFL to join the Giants.

    Plenty have already derided his code-hopping venture, and it’s likely he’ll cop more first-season scrutiny than Tom Scully or any other No.1 draft pick.

    Sheedy knows not to expect miracles from the club’s highest profile recruit.

    “He’s come a long way in the last period, and all our players will need these games – not just Izzy,” said Sheedy.

    “We’re exploring all avenues for him to develop and keep improving.”

    Development and improvement. Many would call the Giants’ upcoming season a success if every player under the age of 22 – which includes co-captains Callan Ward and Phil Davis – is able to tick those two boxes.

    But an old hand like Sheedy knows it’s not that simple.

    “I think the most important thing is that you completely let everyone know that you’re going to be a very, very competitive team.”

    GREATER WESTERN SYDNEY
    Coach: Kevin Sheedy
    Captains: Luke Power, Phil Davis, Callan Ward
    Last year: Debut season
    Premierships: Nil

    Key five: Tom Scully, Callan Ward, Phil Davis, Rhys Palmer, Israel Folau.

    One to watch: Israel Folau – unlike fellow code-hopper Karmichael Hunt, who at least played some Australian Rules football as a child, Folau’s status as a newcomer to the sport makes him exactly what the Giants are – a very expensive experiment that will take a lot of time to pay off, if it does at all. There is no doubting his athletic ability. But Folau’s limited knowledge of the finer points of the game meant he struggled when trialled in defence. A move forward, where he can play with less responsibility and relying more on athleticism and instinct has helped, but it will not be so easy at the top level.

    Ins: First year.

    Outs: First year.

    Best line-up:

    B: Tomas Bugg, Tim Mohr, Chad Cornes

    HB: Luke Power, Phil Davis, Dom Tyson

    C: Rhys Palmer, Callan Ward, Adam Treloar

    HF: Curtly Hampton, Jon Patton, Stephen Coniglio

    F: Setanta O’hAilpin, Israel Folau, Tim Golds

    R: Dean Brogan, Steve Clifton, Tom Scully

    I: James McDonald, Jeremy Cameron, Dylan Shiel, Jonathan Giles

    Predicted finish: 18th
    Betting (Sportingbet)
    To win the flag: $1001
    To make the top eight: $51

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (15)

    • Roar Guru

      March 8th 2012 @ 8:31am
      The Cattery said | March 8th 2012 @ 8:31am | ! Report

      It’s an inexperienced line up, they will be tested, they will cop a few hidings, but there is also some genuine young talent there, and every now and then they are going to put together 5 to 10 minutes of pretty good football which will be worth watching.

      • March 9th 2012 @ 9:41pm
        Westie said | March 9th 2012 @ 9:41pm | ! Report

        Am from Rooty Hill and I just cannot wait to get into this AFL football. I think people are over playing how in grained RL is out here. The region is sport’s mad and people are into everything, so AFL footy is welcome and long, long over-due.

        I am that confident that the district with back West Sydney Giants that it will only be a few seasons and you will notice they are the bigger of the two expansion teams. In 20 years I think they will be the bigger of the Sydney clubs over-taking the Swans and the easterners are too busy trying to look good looking in the mirror all day long.

        The name needs trimming and Canberra needs to get it’s own team. It is odd they are trying to be something to all people but only going an inch deep about it.

        • March 10th 2012 @ 3:14pm
          stabpass said | March 10th 2012 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

          If it s done correctly, it if is received well, if the community in general follows it, then, and there is a few ifs, then the GWS may be one of the biggest clubs in Australia, ATM the NRL is attempting to introduce a membership culture, this will actually work in GWS favour with new people introduced to the game and club buying into that culture as well.

          Much bigger potential than many other clubs in Australia, but will that potential be realised, but we are talking about a fairly long time frame here.

    • March 8th 2012 @ 7:44pm
      gleeso said | March 8th 2012 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

      It is a complete fabrication. There was zero community demand for the team, the team is comprised of nothing but Victorians who would not have come up but that they were obliged by the rules of the code. The team will be pounded.

      • Roar Guru

        March 8th 2012 @ 8:03pm
        The Cattery said | March 8th 2012 @ 8:03pm | ! Report

        They’re not all from Victoria. Davis and Bruce are Canberra boys, and I think Izzy is originally from Sydney.

      • Roar Guru

        March 9th 2012 @ 8:10am
        Redb said | March 9th 2012 @ 8:10am | ! Report

        All new teams are fabrications in any sporting competition. Your Victorians comment is typical troll.

        3 out of the first 5 posts from you. Just Sayin’

      • March 9th 2012 @ 2:27pm
        Australian Rules said | March 9th 2012 @ 2:27pm | ! Report

        No community demand…yet an area of 2M people has 4 teams from one code and zero teams from the other 3.

    • March 8th 2012 @ 8:27pm
      gleeso said | March 8th 2012 @ 8:27pm | ! Report

      Izzy is going to have trouble convincing the people of western sydney he is one of us for obvious reasons – he is a QLDer.

      • Roar Guru

        March 8th 2012 @ 8:37pm
        The Cattery said | March 8th 2012 @ 8:37pm | ! Report

        If he starts wrapping those big mitts round the pigskin, and takes a few hangers, you’d be surprised how quickly people will be convinced.

    • March 8th 2012 @ 9:48pm
      gleeso said | March 8th 2012 @ 9:48pm | ! Report

      Nah. Actually the point to be made about Folou is that he will be playing for parra by 2014 at the latest.

      • March 8th 2012 @ 9:54pm
        Ian Whitchurch said | March 8th 2012 @ 9:54pm | ! Report

        Gleeso,

        Parra cant afford him. Seriously, have you seen what Vlad just said … you can deal with what GWS would honestly pay a good young KPF, and then add 750k of Vlad’s money to it, and you’re at $1.25m, and therefore beyond what Parra would pay.

        Oh, you dont know who Vlad is ? Epic fail.

      • Roar Guru

        March 9th 2012 @ 8:12am
        Redb said | March 9th 2012 @ 8:12am | ! Report

        You lot said something similiar about Karmichael Hunt and you were wrong.

    • March 9th 2012 @ 8:31am
      brendan said | March 9th 2012 @ 8:31am | ! Report

      People can knock them asmuch as they like but the westies of Sydney are a close knit group and a i think humble beginnings will strike a chord with many potential supporters.Some of the greats of our game have come from the region west of Sydney to the border ,not neccesarily in the suburbs but if the game grows in this region it is inevitable some players will make the AFL further entrenching the westies pride.Good on the Afl for this venture its easy to take the safe option ala preaching to the converted but we should all remember that the first expansion of the vfl out of Melbourne 30 odd years ago was to the”” heathen and there five/eigths” in Sydney and that succesful decision started the vibrant competition referred to as Afl now.

    • March 9th 2012 @ 7:26pm
      TW said | March 9th 2012 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

      GWS Twitter reporting as of today – 7011 members – They had a big surge while down at Albury for their NAB match tommorrow. Target is 17,000 for the season. Hope we continue to get media articles on breakdown of the membership.
      There are several players from Southern NSW in the Squad – Yes that is right NSW not Victoria.

      • March 10th 2012 @ 1:36pm
        mick h said | March 10th 2012 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

        yes it really doesn’t matter where your membership base comes from but the whole point about the giants is how many true blue members come from western sydney.

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