Who are the Giants players who should play to their optimum level in season 2021?
The giant baby of the competition has yet to bring up one decade of existence in the AFL, but has already created a CV to be proud of.
That includes one grand final (loss), 11 finals (six wins), a win-loss ratio of 50 per cent or better against seven of its competitors, a home-grown AFL top 100 goal scorer, one other imported AFL top 100 goal scorer and three imported AFL top 100 game players.
Unfortunately the home-grown star Jeremy Cameron has flown the nest and landed at Geelong where he will connect with fellow top 100 goal scorer Tom Hawkins as both improve their position on the goal-kicking list.
Mind you, on the Geelong club list, Cameron will start at zero, behind over 790 players who have scored goals for the Cats and level with nearly 300 players who have never scored a goal for Geelong (including new teammate Jake Kolodjashnij, who has not scored a goal in 110 games).
In contrast to their one-year-older interstate cousin the Gold Coast with two, GWS has six players who have topped the 150-game milestone and will have a seventh when Stephen Coniglio plays his first game in 2021, to be followed four games later by Nick Haynes.
All eight players were at the club at the end of the 2020 season but the departure of Jeremy Cameron (the number one game player as well) and the delisting of Heath Shaw means that two more positions in the Giants’ top ten game players are not held by players still wearing the orange, charcoal and white, making a total of four former players in this elite group.
This situation will be improved somewhat during the year with Josh Kelly and Adam Kennedy expected to play enough games to pass the totals of Adam Tomlinson and Dylan Shiels, who hold positions nine and ten respectively.
Cameron and Shaw should also be shunted further down the list if the Giants are able to keep their most experienced players on the paddock most weeks. Apart from Cameron and Shaw, another six players left the Giants. Free agents Aidan Corr and Zach Williams found new homes at North Melbourne and Carlton and Jye Caldwell and Zac Langdon were traded to Essendon and the West Coast Eagles. Tom Sheridan and Sam Jacobs retired.
The Giants took the punt and recruited Jesse Hogan to his third club, as well as Melbourne’s Braydon Preuss, to build their big man stocks. Hogan started his career at Melbourne, but after four years and 71 games he moved on to Fremantle in 2019 and played a further 19 games for the Dockers.
During his time at the Demons, Hogan’s goal average per game was 2.14 but in the two years in the west he averaged 0.94 per game. His 152 goals at Melbourne and 18 goals at Fremantle were both enough to see him ensconced in the top 100 goal scorers at both clubs. At Melbourne he is ranked 42nd and at the Dockers equal 85th.
Preuss managed eight games at North Melbourne in 2017 and ten games in his two seasons at Melbourne (2019-2020).
Among the other players, Jacob Hopper, Sam Reid and Harry Himmelberg should all reach 100 games for the club while Brent Daniels needs just one game to bring up his 50 games and become the 37th Giant to make the half century. He should be followed later in the season by Sam Taylor and Lachlan Keeffe.
Harry Himmelberg – as well as bringing up his century of games – is well placed to become the fifth Giant to kick 100 goals. In the last four years he has kicked 91 goals and therefore needs only nine more.