GWS Giants 2012 Season Preview

INS: They’re all new at the AFL’s newest franchise. There are a few familiar faces, with ten recruits boasting AFL experience. The Giants then netted a swag of young talent at the national draft where they held nine of the first eleven selections.

OUTS: Giants inaugural CEO Dale Holmes was sacked in October amid claims the team was grappling with mounting budget shortfalls and compliance issues. The backroom drama was soon to to rest as Holmes was immediately replaced by former AFL Game Development Manager David Matthews.

YEAR IN REVIEW: The Giants spent 2011 learning about each other and how they wanted to play in newly revamped NEAFL competition. They finished the year with an encouraging 12-5 win-loss record.

GAME BREAKER: The experienced bodies they’ve recruited should keep them in games in year one but look out for Will Hoskin-Elliott. The no.4 pick at the national draft is a dashing wingman who thrives on breaking the lines and taking the game on. Hopefully we’ll see plenty of that this season.

RISING STAR: No.2 pick Stephen Coniglio is a midfield jet and born leader. The hard working West Australian starred in the WAFL with Swan Districts last year. The prolific ball winner is expected to play every game and is hot favourite for the NAB Rising Star Award.

KEY ARRIVAL: Tom Scully is the highest paid Giant but Phil Davis is the most-important arrival at the league’s 18th club. Davis was a first round draft pick selected by Adelaide in 2008, who were gutted to lose a player of his ilk. The key defender stands at 196cm and has already been tested against the league’s best forwards. The Giants’ co-captain can expect to see plenty of football down back in 2012.

COACH FACTOR: Master coach Kevin Sheedy is back at AFL level after a 5 year exodus. The man who led Essendon to four premierships in 27 seasons at Windy Hill has shown renewed enthusiasm since taking charge of GWS. Former Port Adelaide premiership coach Mark Williams has also joined him at Breakfast Point, which promises that press conferences won’t be dull.

STATS THAT MATTER: The average age of the GWS list is 21 years and 64 days. Thats younger than the Gold Coast Suns, making the Giants the most inexperienced list of any expansion club in AFL history.

THE VERDICT: 18th. This year is about gaining experience and if the Giants get a win, that will be a bonus. They boast a super-talented list and will surprise any of the bottom 10 clubs that don’t take them seriously. They will be exposed and cop some floggings, as expected, but there will be moments of excitement and brilliance. Look for Shiel and Coniglio to hold their own as established midfielders while no.1 draft pick Jonathon Patton promises to be an exciting key forward to watch. Many eyes will be on NRL convert Israel Folau, while the input of experienced campaigners Power, McDonald, Cornes, Brogan and O’hAilpin will be important. Along with Power, co-captains Ward and Davis have big roles to fill. It will be a bumpy ride but one worth being on.

BEST 22

B: Buntine Mohr Cornes

HB: Hoskin-Elliott Davis Treloar

C: Coniglio Ward Palmer

HF: Smith Patton Power

F: Sumner Folau Cameron

Foll: Brogan Scully McDonald

I/C: Shiel, Tyson, Greene

Sub: O’hAilpin

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