When reports emerged GWS forward Jeremy Finlayson had completed a medical at Port Adelaide, it received a perplexed reaction throughout the AFL community.
Who are the Giants players who should play to their optimum level in season 2021?
To be eligible for selection, a player must have played at least five games in season 2020, so there can be a reference point as far as those players who apply their talent the best at AFL level.
The number one ruckman for the Giants in season 2021, Braydon Preuss, is out injured for up to five months.
To add to that fact, the two back up ruckmen have yet to play a game of AFL. They are Matthew Flynn and Kieren Briggs.
It appears as if some of the Giants’ key players don’t have a clean bill of health, apart from Phil Davis, Lachie Whitfield and Kieren Briggs.
Here are the ten players (plus an honourable mention) who will stand out from the pack in season 2021 in terms of performing to their optimum level.
Jeremy Finlayson kicked 19 goals in 15 games in season 2020, only five goals less than Jeremy Cameron, despite Finlayson playing two fewer games than Cameron. The fact Cameron got traded means more onus will be put on Finlayson to kick more goals in season 2021, if the Giants are to finish anywhere near the top eight.
10. Matt de Boer
Matt de Boer has the ability to play as a defensive forward on a half-forward flank and is capable of playing as a tagger. Despite only playing 13 games in season 2020, he finished equal-seventh in the best and fairest.
That’s impressive, considering the fact that he only averaged 11.77 disposals per game. He averaged 3.46 tackles per game, which is a reasonable average.
The Giants need him to perform well in season 2021, predominantly in relation to negating the impact of opposition players.
9. Jake Riccardi
Riccardi averaged the most goals of any Giants player in season 2020 with 1.8 goals per game in the five games that he featured in. He kicked at least one goal in four out of five games.
He should be a pivotal part of the Giants’ structure in season 2021 as he should play at centre half-forward, with the other two tall forwards in the Giants’ best 22 – Jesse Hogan and Jeremy Finlayson, with Harry Himmelberg waiting in the wings.
8. Harry Perryman
Perryman is a player who got a lot of credit from within the Giants organisation in season 2020, as he finished third in the best and fairest, despite missing one game. Had he not missed that game, he may well have won the best and fairest!
He averaged the sixth most disposals of any Giants player, at 18.38 disposals per game. He is a player that will probably play on the wing in season 2021 and will need to improve his output, despite being rated so highly within the team.
7. Lachie Whitfield
Lachie Whitfield is a quality player, which he showed in season 2020 as he featured in every game and finished equal-first in the best and fairest. He averaged the most disposals of any Giants player, at 22.94 disposals per game.
It’s unfortunate that he may not be available to play early in season 2021, as the Giants need him fit and firing. If he didn’t suffer the setback of a bruised liver, he would certainly be in the top five on the order of merit, without a shadow of a doubt.
The reality is he is a tough player, but he will probably find it tough to play at his optimum level as the injury he suffered could hinder his output in season 2021.
6. Stephen Coniglio
Coniglio showed how deceiving stats can be, as he was omitted from the team in Round 17 of season 2020.
He averaged 21.06 disposals per game – the fourth most of any Giants player, and he averaged the fourth most contested possessions with an average of 8.56 per game.
In AFL it’s rare that a captain gets dropped from the team. He only finished tenth in the Giants’ best and fairest in season 2020.
He will need to improve significantly, which he has the potential to, in order for the team to challenge for a top-eight finish in season 2021.
5. Tim Taranto
Taranto only featured in 11 out of the 17 games in season 2020 as he was injured and unavailable for six games. He had an average of 19.27 disposals per game, which was the fourth-highest average among Giants players.
He averaged the third-most tackles of any Giants player, with an average of 4.09 per game. He will need to avoid injury in season 2021, as he has the potential to be a key part of their best 22.
4. Toby Greene
Toby Greene polled the most votes of any Giants player in the Brownlow Medal in season 2020 with 12 votes.
He only featured in 13 out of 17 games in 2020, but still managed to finish equal seventh in the best and fairest.
He averaged 1.31 goals per game and was constantly an attacking threat. He’ll be looking to kick more goals in season 2021, as he is a matchwinner.
3. Jacob Hopper
Hopper featured in all 17 games of season 2020 for the Giants. He finished equal fourth in the best and fairest.
He is a player that is underrated. His work rate is phenomenal; he averaged 19.24 disposals per game and had 77 tackles in 17 games, 11 more than any other Giants player.
He will need to get the most out of himself in season 2021 to help the Giants improve on their disappointing form in season 2020.
2. Josh Kelly
Kelly has the potential to be considered an elite player in the competition if his form in season 2020 isn’t an aberration and he performs to his optimum level in season 2021.
He featured in 14 of 17 games in season 2020, but still managed to finish equal fourth in the best and fairest. He averaged the second most disposals of any player for the Giants in season 2020 with an average of 22.07 per game.
From a defensive perspective, he was outstanding, as he averaged the most tackles of any Giants player with an average of 4.21 per game. Hopefully, he is fit and firing in season 2020, which will help the Giants endeavour to push for a top-eight finish.
1. Nick Haynes
Haynes was a revelation for the Giants in2020.
He featured in all 17 games and was the only Giant selected in the AFL All Australian squad.
He was also named in the All Australian team of 22 players on a halfback flank and finished equal first in the Giants’ best and fairest.
He averaged an impressive 16 disposals per game and averaged the eighth highest disposal efficiency with 74.62 per cent, which is respectable.
He should play a key role for the Giants at centre halfback in season 2021, but should still provide run out of defence and have a good balance between being an attacking and defensive defender.
The Giants need him to be at his best in season 2021 if they are to get anywhere near finishing in the top eight.