After picking up a raft of highly-touted youngsters at the 2011 National Draft, Greater Western Sydney will be facing an uphill battle to secure them all as homesickness and interest from Victorian clubs has already begun to jeopardise plans of creating a stable playing roster.
Industry and GWS insiders have confirmed that the highly-rated picks Will Hoskin-Elliott (pick 4) and Matthew Buntine (pick 5), alongside a raft of others, have grown tired of their new surroundings and in Hoskin-Elliot’s case, knocked back a contract extension. In turn, this has primed several Victorian clubs to move in for their services at the end of season 2013.
Upon being drafted, most Giants recruits from the 2011 draft signed two-year deals with a contract extension clause offered for the 2014 season. A Giants insider has confirmed Hoskin-Elliott and others have both knocked back these extensions in initial contract meetings, citing homesickness as a major reason. These other players include Sam Darley, Tim Golds and Nick Haynes, who are seeking to return to their home states if possible in the near future.
Although Buntine signed a contract extension until 2015 back in April, he too is suffering from homesickness.
In a further revelation, the Giants were aware of this as early as before draft day and targeted defenders in Kristian Jaksch, Lachie Plowman and Aidan Corr to offset the loss of Buntine and Jack Hombsch. Hombsch joined Port Adelaide in October.
A GWS insider stated that coach Kevin Sheedy had already identified the core group of players that he wants the Giants to be moving forward with, and the planning involved recruiting plenty of key position players to prepare for the exodus of key players over the next 12-24 months.
The insider went on to say that Sheedy had recruited a surplus of midfielders as he was aware that a good third would want to return home, and sought to use it to the Giants’ advantage in knowing that teams would pay a premium for them.
When quizzed about the reasons why players were finding it difficult to adjust to their new home at Breakfast Point, the insider pointed to the absence of relatives and familiar surroundings as the key factors in the growing resentment within the playing group.
“Quite a lot of the players have long-term girlfriends and some can’t stand living here, because few have any family or friends who are outside the club up here”, they said.
“Some of these girlfriends are also living back in their home states and it’s causing a bit of grief.”
On top of these developments, Victorian clubs have caught wind of the youngsters’ disenchantment and have begun internal discussions over approaching them. It is confirmed that Collingwood has shown interest in Buntine, whilst Hoskin-Elliott has been discussed internally at length at Richmond, North Melbourne and Carlton.
Buntine, Hoskin-Elliott, Darley, Haynes and Golds now join Dom Tyson, who was ruthlessly targeted by Richmond in October’s trade period and has a raft of other Victorian clubs interested in his future intentions, as players whose futures at GWS beyond the 2013 season are now are up in the air.