The Roar
The Roar


No Buddy, no Giant worry

4th June, 2015

Failing to secure Lance ‘Buddy’ Franklin two years ago was the best thing that could have possibly happened to Greater Western Sydney.

The Giants may not have thought so at the time, but I’m sure they wouldn’t be shedding any tears over their ‘loss’ now.

With two young guns fit and firing up forward and an even spread of talent across the team, the western Sydney boys are almost certain of competing in their first ever finals series – unlike that other expansion team to the north.

Gold Coast might have snaffled the league’s best player in Gary Ablett, but it has done little to advance their cause in the long run.

GWS, on the other hand, failed to land a really big name and were forced to just get on with the job, develop the talent they had and look for more elsewhere.

Had they signed Franklin, that may not have happened.

Firstly, even with the concessions allowed, the money Franklin would have sucked out of the club would have made it extremely difficult to begin re-signing all their talented youngsters.

Instead, now, with a sniff of success, a real feeling of spirit, and some room to move within their salary cap, the Giants are securing their future, one youngster at a time. Jeremy Cameron, Devon Smith, Adam Tomlinson and Will Hoskin-Smith have all recently recommitted to the fledging club, with dynamo Dylan Shiel expected to follow suit shortly.


Secondly, had the Franklin deal been successful, what would have happened to Cameron and his partner in crime, Cam McCarthy? The two big men are fast becoming the league’s number one goal kicking act.

Cameron had shown promise since day one. It takes real talent to regularly kick goals in woeful teams that are taking horrible beatings, but that is exactly what he did. In 2013 he kicked 62 goals in a side that only won one game for the year. In fact, in his 51 games to the beginning of this season he had only played in six wins. He has doubled that stat in the first nine rounds of this campaign.

And isn’t he enjoying his club’s change in fortune. Now that the team is functioning as elite teams should, we are seeing just how much of a class act the big forward is. A bag of seven goals against the Hawks and a riotous five second-half goals against the Blues is indicative of the type of football that Giants fans can expect from the 22-year-old for years to come.

No doubt Cameron would have survived alongside Franklin had the former Hawk decided to grace the club with his presence, but what then would have happened to McCarthy? No attack can successfully incorporate three key forwards, and McCarthy, in just his second year after playing one game last season, would have been the unwanted third wheel.

What a shame that would have been. The 20-year-old shows great promise and has years ahead of him. If he continues with his rapid development he can form a partnership with Cameron that will terrorise opposition back lines for the next decade.

What finals aspiring team wouldn’t want that?

For the record, Cameron and McCarthy have kicked 51 goals between them this year (29 and 22 goals respectively). The Swans duo of Franklin and Kurt Tippett have kicked 43 (27 goals and 16 goals respectively).


Finally, by not signing a high-profile superstar such as Franklin, GWS have avoided becoming a ‘one player team’, a perception held by many of their expansionist cousins, the Suns.

Ablett’s form has been sensational for the Gold Coast. It’s what you would expect from a player who, up until his shoulder injury last year, was still considered to be the best in the competition. But has Gary Ablett’s presence been good for the Suns?

Has his presence stifled the development of others? Was his playing form so good and his influence on matches so great that some teammates sat back and watched the show instead of contributing in their own right?

It is easy to become overly reliant on a dominant force – especially when that dominant force happens to be one of the greatest footballers to have ever pulled on a boot – but it is not healthy for a team chasing a future.

There is a reason why coaches like to spread the load across a number of players. Unfortunately for the Suns that load has too often been carried by Ablett alone.

Could a similar thing have happened at the Giants had Franklin joined the team? Possibly. We wouldn’t have seen the development of Cam McCarthy that’s for sure.

The Giants wanted Franklin, let’s not forget that. So in a way it was more accident than good management that got them to their current situation. But I’m guessing there are no regrets within the club now about how things turned out.


Besides, creating home-grown superstars is so much sweeter than importing them.

GWS are Franklin free and flying, and that’s how it should be.