AFL draft analysis: Greater Western Sydney Giants

Maddy Friend Columnist

By Maddy Friend, Maddy Friend is a Roar Expert

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    After losing their first-round pick as punishment for the club’s role in Lachie Whitfield missing a drug test earlier in the year, the Giants were eager to get back into the first round of the draft.

    They managed to do so by snaring Essendon’s pick 11 in exchange for Devon Smith and a swap of later picks. They then traded inside midfielder Matt Kennedy to Carlton in exchange for pick 28 and defender Nathan Wilson to Fremantle for a second-round pick.

    The latter was a disappointing result for the club, given Wilson has blossomed into one of the competition’s best running defenders in the past few seasons. Overall, though, GWS should be happy with the position they find themselves in leading into the draft.

    Draft picks: 11, 27, 28, 57

    Josh Kelly GWS Giants AFL 2017

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

    What they need
    Losing Smith and Steve Johnson (retired) has left them short on smaller, crumbing forwards. Shane Mumford and Tom Downie’s retirements will also have them thinking about another developing ruckman, while they could also use another running half-back and third-tall forward.

    Who they might consider
    At pick 11, Jack Higgins would be a perfect fit. He’s a small forward who is one of the most dedicated and professional players in the draft and has a great footy IQ. He kicked 32 goals in 14 games this year and won the Morrish Medal as the best player in the TAC Cup this year.

    Darcy Fogarty could also be an option as a third tall forward, while Lochie O’Brien offers some pace off half-back, but pick 11 may be slightly too early for him. Hunter Clark and Nick Coffield would also be classy, polished selections.

    Picks 27 and 28 are interesting. Sam Hayes is the best ruckman in the pool, but whether or not he’ll be available around those selections will be one of the interesting factors of draft night. On talent he’s worth a top-20 pick, but clubs have shown a preference in recent times to either draft or trade for mature-aged ruckmen. If Hayes is there at these picks, he’d be a good pick up for the club.

    GWS Giants coach Leon Cameron

    (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

    Draft/trade strategy
    This is the first year since the club’s inception that they don’t have a top-10 pick. After four or five years of aggressive trading for high draft picks in return, GWS seem to be starting to settle into more of a normal rhythm as they solidify their list for the future.

    The club’s strategy in recent years has been to acquire high draft picks and then trade out these players a few years later. Since their inception in 2012, GWS have traded or delisted players who would be considered first choice at other clubs, including: Tom Bugg, Jack Hombsch, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Rhys Palmer, Wilson, Curtly Hampton, Smith, Dom Tyson, Jacob Townsend, Jonathan O’Rourke, Lachie Plowman, Caleb Marchbank, Paul Ahern, Jarod Pickett, James Stewart, Tom Boyd, Cam McCarthy, and Jack Steele.

    That’s a heck of a lot of talent out the door. Rather than stockpiling high picks to use on highly ranked youngsters, only to trade them a few years later to free up cap space or for another high pick, the club this year will take a more sedate approach.

    For the first time in a long time GWS also have no academy players eligible to be drafted this year. Based on their general approach to trading and drafting in recent years, having to draft their academy players has made GWS more reactive than proactive.

    GWS have chosen to select their academy players possibly without giving thought to their list balance as a whole, which has led to a glut of players in some positions, mainly in the midfield. Not having that option this year means that the club might be more inclined to select players based on need, rather than just trying to acquire more talent.

    Not having early picks or academy players means that GWS recruiters will, for really the first time, be forced to use their recruiting nous and prowess to select good players rather than having an obvious choice. This draft is an important one for the Giants as they look to both consolidate their list and bring in more young players. If they get this draft right, it may go a long way to helping them win their inaugural premiership.

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    The Crowd Says (20)

    • November 4th 2017 @ 12:19pm
      Darren said | November 4th 2017 @ 12:19pm | ! Report

      When are you doing the western bulldogs

    • Roar Guru

      November 4th 2017 @ 5:39pm
      Wayne said | November 4th 2017 @ 5:39pm | ! Report

      No point drafting a ruckman. Less risk in poaching one; take best available player this year.

    • November 4th 2017 @ 9:10pm
      Don Freo said | November 4th 2017 @ 9:10pm | ! Report

      If Zac Clarke’s knee has recovered (as he claims it is) he provides a great set of hands and really good mobility. They should grab him now as a delisted free agent.

    • November 5th 2017 @ 6:13am
      Maurice said | November 5th 2017 @ 6:13am | ! Report

      Can’t think of 1 really good game Zac Clarke played for dockers. Through injury or whatever the game has passéd him .

      • November 5th 2017 @ 9:15am
        Don Freo said | November 5th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        That’s understandable. It was over 2 years since his last clear run at it.

        You don’t play over 100 games if they are all duds. It just means you haven’t paid attention.

        • November 5th 2017 @ 10:08am
          Hungry Jack said | November 5th 2017 @ 10:08am | ! Report

          Or it may just mean that the Dockers persisted for way too long to try to get something out of their investment. Not all ex-Dockers players are AFL up-to-it, Don. I agree with Maurice. Never at any stage looked like a footballer! Period.

          • November 5th 2017 @ 10:49am
            Don Freo said | November 5th 2017 @ 10:49am | ! Report

            Yes, I hear your opinion but I dismiss it because you have no way of knowing.

            • November 5th 2017 @ 10:58am
              Hungry Jack said | November 5th 2017 @ 10:58am | ! Report

              Very arrogant assumption, Don. You’re not the only person with access to lots of games of football. Seen about 60 of this bloke’s career AFL games. You rate him more highly than any other scribe. You say you hear opinion but listening is not your strength. Dismissal is your strongest defence. Not good enough!

              • November 5th 2017 @ 11:23am
                Don Freo said | November 5th 2017 @ 11:23am | ! Report

                An assumption based on your previous comment.

                What will it cost a club to pick him up for free? Anyone can express an anti-position. It takes a footy fan to appreciate what players have done at the top.

                You seem to have only focussed on imperfections. That can only take you to negatives and you miss the point of sport.

            • November 5th 2017 @ 12:58pm
              Crowbot said | November 5th 2017 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

              Don, have Freo made the wrong call on Clarke? Griffo is gone, Sandi is just about to turn 35, Darcy is only 19. Clarke’s knee is good and he’s only 27. Seems that he’d be a pretty good fit if he was any good. Personally I’m with Freo,Maurice and HJ on this, but what’s your take on why he was delisted.

              • November 5th 2017 @ 3:17pm
                Don Freo said | November 5th 2017 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

                I think Clarke would have served Freo well. He’s pretty good if he’s sound. The reality is that with Sandi and Darcy, he would not get games and we have a fit and strong Apeness as well to fill a dual role.

                Better to let him test the market and get regular time. It’s win/win if he gets picked up. A win for him and a win for the club that gets him.

                We’ll probably get Tim English in a few years once the Doggies have put a few kms into him.

      • November 6th 2017 @ 1:39am
        dontknowmuchaboutfootball said | November 6th 2017 @ 1:39am | ! Report

        If by “really good game” you mean BOG or top 3, that’s probably fair enough. But he had a lot of solid games in 2013, when he stepped in after Sandi and then Griffin went down. Went completely missing in the GF, but before that he played his role, had impact in the ruck and contributed on the wing (less so on the forward 50).

        Given he’d cost nothing in terms of draft picks, and next to nothing in terms of salary, a club with little to no ruck depth could do worse than picking him up (assuming his knee passes the medical).

    • November 5th 2017 @ 11:39am
      Hungry Jack said | November 5th 2017 @ 11:39am | ! Report

      What will it cost? A place on the their list for someone with real potential. So I guess I’m not a footy fan by your definition! It’s a cruel, cut-throat sport, Don. He’s had his chances, more chances than most.

    • November 5th 2017 @ 10:10pm
      Sticks said | November 5th 2017 @ 10:10pm | ! Report

      I always pay a lot of attention to the players recruited by GWS. Because if you wait a couple of years the very average ones turn up at Carlton.

      • November 6th 2017 @ 6:25pm
        Mark said | November 6th 2017 @ 6:25pm | ! Report

        No one has done that before.

        10 points for originality.

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