Despite the fact that the GWS Giants are without Toby Greene, Lachie Whitfield and Stephen Coniglio, the upcoming preliminary final is shaping up to be an enticing contest.
Greater Western Sydney has marketing genius Kevin Sheedy and the best teenagers in the land in its corner. But it is difficult to build a case for the Giants winning one game in their first season in the AFL.
Some said the same about Gold Coast last season, but the Suns boasted Gary Ablett Jr, still rated by some as the pre-eminent player in the competition, along with former Brisbane Lions best and fairest winner Michael Rischitelli, ex-Hawthorn premiership defender Campbell Brown, Nathan Bock and Jarrod Harbrow.
While the Giants’ move to install three-time premiership player Luke Power as one of their three inaugural captains is a good one, it exposes the lack of depth in their ranks.
Power was told to retire by the Lions last season – a side also occupying a spot in the lower reaches of the ladder.
Phil Davis and Callan Ward will also hold the leadership baton in the Giants’ first year. Both are up-and-coming players who have their best football ahead of them.
But they won’t find their best this year. In three years they should be firing on all cylinders along with several of their teammates.
Not this year, though. It is a development year for the Giants, and should be seen as nothing more.
And what of Tom Scully? Can he shake his much-publicised knee problems to become a genuine star of the competition? The fact GWS did not hand its star recruit the captaincy is worrying.
Gold Coast’s ready-made recruits entered their new club with a big reputation in the top ranks.
The Giants’ experienced players either haven’t established themselves yet, or are over the hill.
It is why I fear they will be chewed up several times this season. Their fans will have to get used to three-figure thumpings as players like Power, Chad Cornes, Dean Brogan and James McDonald – four players past their best – are looked upon to lead the team on field.
McDonald might be a fantasy football bargain buy, but he was playing local footy in the Victoria Amateur Football Association last season and might battle a bit this year given there will be expectations on him, as a senior member of the side, to perform strongly.
If the veterans don’t perform, the pressure will then build on the Giants’ enviable stable of first-year players.
Sheedy’s Giants will make everyone stand up and take notice in three seasons.
For the moment, though, the list has more holes than any of their 17 AFL rivals.