Sheedy building a giant monster out west

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    GWS coach Kevin Sheedy addresses players (L-R) Josh Bruce, Tom Kickett and Adam Flagg before a training session at Blacktown Olympic Park, Rooty Hill, NSW.

    GWS coach Kevin Sheedy addresses players (L-R) Josh Bruce, Tom Kickett and Adam Flagg before a training session at Blacktown Olympic Park, Rooty Hill, NSW.

    Kevin Sheedy has always been a man of innovation; an enigma who drives the football world to the edges of its wit before conquering it with his ideas of conviction or quirkiness.

    Now, after a four-year hiatus, he’s back in the coaches box, already stirring up headlines as the GWS Giants begin to assemble.

    Unlike the straight-toothed baby Suns, the Giants are being constructed as some kind of monster. A fusion of reliable but badly worn parts, the very latest technology off the football assembly line and foreign components not yet tried in Australian conditions.

    The Giants have been big players already in Trade Week – the attempt to manoeuvre touted prodigy Jaeger O’Meara through and out of the mini-draft was inspired. It didn’t work, but it shows Sheedy and his head honchos Gubby Allen and Stephen Silvagni mean business.

    It’s expected the Giants will confirm they have brought back from the depths of retirement four one-club champions. James McDonald, Dean Brogan, Chad Cornes and Luke Power are exemplary footballers and fantastic contributors to their respective clubs over long and esteemed careers.

    At a time when clubs are clambering for youth due to the compromised draft, it’s a bold strategy.

    Perhaps it’s the path Sheedy and officials at the Giants feel is required to try and win over some part of Greater Western Sydney territory. The Giants may not be able to entertain the luxury of development seasons, where thrashings are the mean.

    The combination of launching a team with Israel Folau in its wings, the weight of the AFL and the draft being held in Sydney has switched the spotlight dramatically on Blacktown. The curiosity will last until the season kicks of in earnest next year, but if things turn ugly on the field, darkness could descend quickly.

    The recruitment of experienced players will give the Giants a hard body approach instead of relying on raw talent. Real experience in the league and “coaches” on the field is surely invaluable for kids with fast boots but indecisive minds.

    Most importantly, it may also buy them four points a couple of times throughout the season.

    However, as crucial as a few debut season wins will be, the lasting sustainability of the Giants will be the ultimate test of the AFL’s expansion strategy.

    Normally you might argue that Sheedy is putting a bandage over a wound that hasn’t yet formed, because frankly, that future will be without the the four older age recruits.

    He’s has graced the game with his vision, but short-term tactics draw the risk of inhibiting mid-term success. But through ingenious pre-selections and aggressive negotiating the Giants are also stockpiling first round draft picks. Already to this stage they have nine of the top 10 selections, and a handful more in the top 20.

    In addition, GWS has also left the slate clean for a concerted tilt at uncontracted players at the end of the 2012 season. Scott Pendlebury still looms large after signing just a one-year extension with the Magpies.

    It appears to be a meticulous process that has built upon the one used by Gold Coast last year. It is a very different approach to the Suns’ who targeted experienced players that will form the framework of the side in coming years. At this stage, the Giants have no Gary Abletts or Michael Rischitellis.

    For that reason, it will be bizarre fusion of a side that takes the field in 2012 – at risk of becoming undermanned if, as is highly probable, the likes of Brogan and McDonald get injured or don’t travel.

    Whispers of a Brendan Goddard coup still hover though; that would dramatically change the game, and it’s clear other clubs are getting antsy.

    The disgruntled cries are growing louder as every trade deal goes through – it’s apparent the Giants are rippling the waters. Everyone knew the concessions were generous, we just weren’t prepared for how they could be manipulated.

    As eccentric as Sheedy is, it is refreshing to have a genuine character standing in the ranks. Everything he’s trying might fail, GWS might teeter on implosion Dubai-style and clubs will laugh under their breath as they pile on the goals.

    But the man has an enviable track record, and his Giants are looming larger each day.

    It’s sure to make the 2012 season one of the most fascinating yet.

    Follow Jack on Twitter @JackBoard.

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    The Crowd Says (121)

    • October 14th 2011 @ 9:03am
      Australian Rules said | October 14th 2011 @ 9:03am | ! Report

      GWS will finish with the wooden spoon next year.

      At least they should – and people need to expect that. As the article states, they will be a very different beast from the Suns which enjoyed a fresh, young, glamorous brand, entering into a market that had yearned (but hadn’t earned) for its own AFL club for a long time. The Giants are different.

      The novelty of going to an AFL game will attract new people to the GWS stands initially – it is great to watch live. But it is the manner in which the team plays and how they connect to the community that will impact on their support in the short and medium term. The AFL will back them for 20 years…but it will be a lonely club to play for if they can’t connect with their community (i.e. get fans quickly)…and Sydney doesn’t necessarily flock to sport in huge numbers.

      The club (even by virtue of time in the comp) will be successful. The GWS region is enormous and can easily cater for an AFL team and I actually think the balance of old and new is a smart move. And the Izzy factor will be huge at first…I hope he makes it.

      • October 14th 2011 @ 9:30am
        Ian Whitchurch said | October 14th 2011 @ 9:30am | ! Report

        Izzy will be fine. He’s six four, he can jump, he’s strong and he can kick straight.

        He’s also had one-on-one coaching by Stephen Silvagni, and I will say right now that what Soss doesnt know about being a fullback isnt worth knowing.

        • October 14th 2011 @ 9:54am
          JamesP said | October 14th 2011 @ 9:54am | ! Report

          Yeah, but Izzy has started firing once he was moved up forward!

        • October 14th 2011 @ 10:15am
          stabpass said | October 14th 2011 @ 10:15am | ! Report

          Hope SOS has not been teaching him how to kick, from memory him and Steven Kernahan, were brothers when it came to kicking helicopters.

        • October 14th 2011 @ 10:15am
          Australian Rules said | October 14th 2011 @ 10:15am | ! Report

          Agreed Ian – though I hope they continue to play him up front. Love the thought of Izzy as a power forward.

    • Roar Guru

      October 14th 2011 @ 9:05am
      mds1970 said | October 14th 2011 @ 9:05am | ! Report

      Kevin Sheedy has always been an innovator and a lateral thinker. Without doubt he is the best media performer in Australian sport, and has the ability to keep the Giants in the spotlight, even in Sydney where the game doesn’t have a huge profile.
      But with a blank canvas to create a new team, he is totally in his element; and trading week has gone exceptionally well for the Giants so far – they now have 11 of the first 14 picks in the upcoming draft. Those players will be young and inexperienced, which is why they’ve signed McDonald and are still working on getting Power, Brogan and Cornes. Those veterans will only be around for a couple of years, but that’s long enough to get the young draft picks established and ready to step up.

      Exciting times are ahead for our newest club. Go Giants!!!

    • October 14th 2011 @ 9:17am
      Chris said | October 14th 2011 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      No doubt Sheedy was an inspired choice for the Giants’ first coach. And they seem to be doing a reasonably good job on the recruitment front. But I’m still not convinced the marketing of the team to try and appeal to all of western Sydney is going to work in the medium/long term. It seems a case of trying to appeal to all of the people all of the time, which often ends up with something that doesn’t quite appeal to anyone…

    • October 14th 2011 @ 9:23am
      M said | October 14th 2011 @ 9:23am | ! Report

      Dear God everything on this damn website is just about code wars.

      • Roar Guru

        October 14th 2011 @ 9:31am
        The Cattery said | October 14th 2011 @ 9:31am | ! Report

        Neither the article or any of the comments has mentioned any other code.

        • October 14th 2011 @ 10:16am
          Australian Rules said | October 14th 2011 @ 10:16am | ! Report

          That sounds like League talk – get him!!


        • October 14th 2011 @ 5:16pm
          Cameron said | October 14th 2011 @ 5:16pm | ! Report

          Why do you mention that Cat? Are you disappointed?

          • Roar Guru

            October 14th 2011 @ 5:21pm
            The Cattery said | October 14th 2011 @ 5:21pm | ! Report


            I responded to M.

    • October 14th 2011 @ 9:33am
      JrodMac92 said | October 14th 2011 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      At least Gold Coast had Ablett and Bock down back to soften the blows of some results, I don’t think GWS can rely on Ward, Davis and Scully just yet to win them games on their own, like Gary could

      • October 14th 2011 @ 9:53am
        Ian Whitchurch said | October 14th 2011 @ 9:53am | ! Report


        Interestingly, the Suns three wins were all relatively quiet Ablett games – 26 possessions against Port, 20 against Brisbane and 27 against Richmond.

    • October 14th 2011 @ 9:39am
      TomC said | October 14th 2011 @ 9:39am | ! Report

      Graeme Allan was the ‘mastermind’ behind Brisbane’s disastrous trade for Brendan Fevola, and frankly I wonder if he’s leading GWS down the same path of too much ambition, not enough prudence.

      Sometimes monsters can be more dangerous to themselves than others.

      • October 14th 2011 @ 10:31am
        Patrick Angel said | October 14th 2011 @ 10:31am | ! Report

        There were whispers that Fev might be moving to GWS earlier in the year. Barry Hall would ave been a good move but it looks like he’ll be boxing.

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