Well here we go again. Another AFL season and another new team. This time it’s Greater Western Sydney, the AFL’s biggest roll of the dice.
In 2011 Greater Western Sydney played 18 games in the NEAFL, winning 12. At their best, they put together a five game winning streak, including a high-scoring encounter with the Brisbane Lions seconds team, scoring 21.14(141) to 19.16(130).
Under the watchful eye of Kevin Sheedy, the Giants have 36 players that have yet to play a proper AFL game, including former rugby league player Israel Folau. They have three that have played between one and 50 games, including Phil Davis, Tom Scully and Sam Reid from the Western Bulldogs.
Setanta O’Hailpin, Callan Ward and Rhys Palmer fall into the 51-100 games range, former Port Adelaide ruckman Dean Brogan is the only player between 101 and 200, while Luke Power, James McDonald and Chad Cornes have all played over 200 league matches.
Power, who retired from the Lions last season, announced that he would play for the league’s newest team in addition to taking on an assistant coaching role, akin to McDonald. Their experience, along with that of Brogan and Cornes, will be extremely valuable to the young players.
Sheeds will be joined in the box by 2004 Port Adelaide premiership coach Mark Williams, who takes on the role of senior assistant coach. One may say he will be the ‘real’ coach of the Giants, with the marketing left to Sheedy.
2012 could well be a season of compare, compare, compare – Gold Coast and Greater Western Sydney.
One person who strongly believes that Greater Western Sydney won’t deliver much is Adelaide Crows recruiting boss Matt Rendell. Who could forget his press conference? “They will be deplorable. They will finish stone motherless last, they are going to be shocking. Why would you expect them to be better (than Gold Coast) last year?”
Will Rendell be correct in his thoughts or is he simply jealous? The Giants boast 14 top 14 picks from the past five drafts.
For me, I have placed watch tags on Taylor Adams from the Geelong Falcons, Matt Buntine who was awarded the Ben Mitchell medal in 2011 after being voted by his AIS/AFL academy peers as the best performer, the 194cm forward Jeremy Cameron, and Stephen “Cliffo” Clifton, who I am stating right now will be the next Brad Sewell, if not better.
I’m also looking at the 2011 second draft selection Stephen Coniglio, Sam Darley up back, Toby Greene who starred in the TAC Cup last year with Oakleigh, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Anthony Miles, number one pick Jonathon Patton, ball-magnet and goal-kicking midfielder Dylan Shield and another Oakleigh midfielder Dom Tyson.
You can see why I think the Giants will be exciting to watch this season.