Story Of The Summer
There’s still a long way to go but the list management development issues for the Giants appear to be fading. In its place is a squad rich on talent, structure and complimentary skill sets which makes for an exciting unit ready to embrace an identity and path to success. As we saw with fellow expansion side Gold Coast, the Giants’ youth is starting to ripen in year three as Jeremy Cameron, Curtly Hampton, Adam Treloar, Adam Tomlinson, Dylan Shiel, Lachie Whitfield and Devon Smith all cement their spots on the team sheet.
Not only have the standout prospects come to the fore the structure of the squad is also taking shape. With a plethora of key position talent and abundance of midfield depth the Giants are now able to plug identified areas of weakness whilst their youth continues to develop. The addition of Heath Shaw, Shane Mumford, Jed Lamb, Josh Hunt and Dylan Addison brings class to the squad and an aura of experience for a largely immature group.
The long-term goal is obviously premierships but the short-term goal for GWS should be further instilling their current game plan and showing evidence of improvement. The Giants have always had structure and discipline and unlike the Suns who chose a contested style consisting of see ball win ball the GWS coaching brass elected to adopt a possession-based bruise-free game plan as they wait for the bodies to season. The ailment of such an approach is the team often lost their way when adversity struck which resulted in numerous thumping losses. During their debut season GWS experienced just the two wins with five losses by triple figures. 2013 didn’t trigger much improvement in the way of results with the Giants winning just the sole game and repeating their five losses by triple figures.
Where They Excel
No other side in the competition boasts a forward line littered with as much potential as GWS. Jeremy Cameron is already among the competition’s most damaging forwards at just 20 years of age. Man mountains Jonathon Patton and Tom Boyd have the appearance of world beaters and if injury can be starved off will have opposition defenders pining for the mercy rule down the track. Adam Tomlinson appears as versatile as they come and could be anything whilst recent pick 12 Cameron McCarthy only adds to the already enormous pool of key position talent.
Thanks to the lightning fast development of Jeremy Cameron, the Giants are more than equipped to be patient on their remaining prospects. Few forwards, if any, have had a season on par with Cameron’s level of production, with the Giants’ youngster ranking among the top 10 in the competition for goals, marks inside 50, marks on the lead, total points and all at an impressive goal kicking accuracy of 69.7%.
If one of Patton or Boyd can fast track their development and serve as a productive decoy Cameron will be even more damaging. As it stands the Giants run the risk of becoming too one-dimensional when entering forward 50, a la Collingwood with Travis Cloke and Hawthorn with Lance Franklin in 2011 after Jarryd Roughead went down with injury.
Hiccups on the Horizon
GWS opted for a skill-dependent possession based game plan which only encourages turnovers. At face value is appears to be choosing to dance with the devil, but the quicker the kids develop their skills under pressure, the more lucrative the long term spoils. The previous two seasons are littered with costly skill errors and 2014 will be no different but these are necessary pains to go through.
The exact same baptism of fire occurred at Richmond when Damien Hardwick won the head coaching gig and introduced a similar style at the Tigers. In Hardwick’s debut season Richmond conceded the most points from turnovers in the competition, even more than wooden spoon winners West Coast. During Hardwick’s second year in the chair the hurt didn’t subside with the Tigers only conceding fewer points from turnovers than new kids on the block Gold Coast, but look at them now. The Tigers are flying and they’ll tell you the key is patience, it takes time, but stay loyal to the path, continue to blood talent and you’ll be rewarded.
Turnovers brought the Giants undone last season – they conceded 320 more points from turnovers than the next ranked side – and turnovers are going to bring the Giants undone again this season. It’s inevitable, although they won’t be alone with Brisbane’s new coach Justin Leppitsch introducing a possession-heavy game plan at Brisbane. It’s simply necessary pain for future gain.
There are still a number of issues the Giants must address in 2014 but culling the savage losses needs to be priority number one. 2012 saw only one member of the GWS squad play every game and 2013 just two. This number must rise to five or six for continuity purposes and to anticipate the movement of teammates. A free flowing GWS on autopilot may be another season or two away but we need to see some semblance of a unified outfit that has moved past the stagnant stop start play of the previous two seasons.
There’s no doubt another season as a cellar dweller looms but with the likes of St Kilda and Melbourne performing full rebuilds there’s opportunity to register four plus wins and climb off the floor of the ladder.
Ladder Range: 14-18
B: S.Gilham, T.Mohr, T.Bugg
HB: C.Hampton, P.Davis, H.Shaw
C: A.Treloar, D.Shiel, L.Whitfield
HF: A.Tomlinson, J.Cameron, J.Lamb
F: D.Addison, J.Patton, D.Smith
Foll: S.Mumford, C.Ward, T.Scully
Int: S.Coniglio, T.Greene, J. Giles
You can follow Scott on Twitter: @ScottyBarby
All data courtesy of AFL.com.au, Herald Sun, Footywire and Foxsports