THE AFL’s first expansion club might be as flat as a Tom Brady ‘hail mary’ but their second expansion effort out of Western Sydney is quickly finding wind in their sails.
The GWS Giants (do we really need the ‘Greater’ in GWS by the way, they’re a footy club not a council) had the biggest win of their youthful existence this past Saturday taking down the reigning premiers quite impressively.
Sure, the unsociable Hawks had their two most unsociable missing in Luke Hodge and Jordan Lewis, who incidentally both hail from Colac and Warrnambool respectively – there must be something in the water down in Victoria’s Western Districts, Jonathon Brown and Stephen Milne ironically also alumni of the area.
Take also into account that the Norm Smith medalist in Brian Lake and prized recruit James Frawley did not dress for the fixture and it was, let’s be pedantic, a Hawthorn not at their absolute best.
Then again, if one is to look also to the talent not in the Giants selected side, which this column will get to, it could be argued the missing names from each team and their importance to their respective sides could arguably offset one another, the win is indeed most definitely meritorious.
That being said, there is rhetoric in the media that the Hawks were off so therefore the door was ajar for the Giants to win when winning would not have been possible besides.
Unlike their colleagues of the solar variety somewhere just north of Coolangatta, the Giants have assembled their initial cast just right and with the numerous free hits, luxuries and concessions they have been granted the very real threat of prompt, embryonic success always loomed large
For the rest of the already-established competition the notion of orange and charcoal lingering in September has now truly arrived.
By no means has it arrived categorically as of May 2015, the ebbs and flows of what is still a darn young team will indeed occur.
However, instead of constantly reviewing the drawing board and sticking to a priority of development over premiership points, the Giants are now in the ‘ironing out the creases’ stage, their young draft picks are starting to rack up Brownlow votes and what’s totally frightening is they’ve got so many emerging who will be polling as such.
Dylan Shiel would be leading the Brownlow Medal as this point of the season if it wasn’t for that freak Fyfe out of Fremantle. He is playing as dominantly as any midfielder in the game, has sustained his form long enough to now to show true validation being considered A-grade, and whilst his signature is being chased by many a Victorian club one feels the opportunity for success and the money he could command would be just as enticing sticking where he already is.
Throw in the likes of Callan Ward, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Toby Greene, Devon Smith, the much improved Tom Scully, Stephen Coniglio and Adam Treloar and the onball brigade is scary deep. The staggering element to the Giants midfield is those names listed are purely who took to the field Saturday, they have Jarrod Pickett, Paul Ahern, Josh Kelly and Jack Steele all bursting with promise to try and squeeze their way in. Their issue is not being up to scratch nor being ready, there simply isn’t the room!
All the players mentioned so far are priority selections or first round picks so their pedigree as potential elite AFL footballers is unquestionable. Many, many All-Australian selections will eventually bestow the mantle pieces of these young men’s parents’ homes and in all likelihood that pattern will commence as early as this season.
Shane Mumford is playing like a colossus and is still only 28, trading away Tom Boyd brought in the seasoned but oh so good Ryan Griffen, he too is 28, Heath Shaw is a year older but is such a wonderful fit along with the 30-year-old acquisition in Joel Patfull and Phil Davis provides strong leadership down back at just 24.
Jeremy Cameron is arguably the best tall forward in the comp already, Jonathon Patton is arguably a better talent and once fit will terrify backline coaches scratching their heads on just how to curtail him and Cameron McCarthy looks a real player, he arguably could become the most potent third foil in the league.
All the ingredients are there and unlike, again, those rascals north of the border who seemingly enjoy taking shots on goal as much as taking shots at the bar, it’s all going beautifully to script where scalps like Hawthorn this year and Sydney last year are not just possible but soon-to-be habitual.
Shiel and Treloar amongst others are out of contract this year but if they do decide to pursue new pastures will be doing so via trade and the Giants will reap the benefit of their prized young talent’s soaring value in the returns they would subsequently receive.
However, whilst some will leave and thus further polish the makeup of their best side in the players such trades will bring in, the current language from those with expiring contracts is about seeing it through, they are genuinely excited about what is on the horizon and justifiably so.
The win over Hawthorn goes to prove that the final pieces of the GWS puzzle are falling into place. The current side is near-on good enough with the talent at hand to naturally and organically win a final within a year or two at the latest, and start regularly featuring in late September as early as the following year.
But again, push comes to shove, some of their surplus of midfielders are traded out for more developed pieces that does nothing to diminish their outlook, if anything it fast tracks that future a little, unbelievably.
These Giants are no longer coming, they are here. Climb up the beanstalk in a few years, there will be an orange and charcoal Giant counting premiership cups.