There’s a term in the AFL called ‘second-year blues’. This is when a player in his second year of the AFL falls off the radar, with his first-year exploits setting the bar too high for him to improve upon in his second year. Greater Western Sydney, now into their second year of existence, had every right to be concerned about the effects of this curse, with 34 players on their list facing the effects of this somewhat superstitious ailment, including eight NAB Rising Star nominees from 2012.
At first glance, you’d be excused for assuming that GWS have been brutalised by this curse, with no wins on the board this season and five matches left to play. Certainly, in ordinary circumstances, any team would be more than a little disheartened with such a result; however GWS have more reasons for optimism than pessimism, as shown in their strong performance against premiership contenders Collingwood last week.
GWS have kicked 172 goals for the season. Nearly 30% of those goals have come from one of the most exciting and, from an opposition perspective, terrifying young players in the competition – Jeremy Cameron.
Cameron’s 50 goals for the season leaves him in equal third position in the Coleman Medal, only four goals behind Jarryd Roughead and West Coast’s Josh Kennedy. For a side which averages 10 goals and under 40 inside 50’s per match, Cameron’s average of three goals a match, also equal third in the competition, cannot be understated.
Only three other Giants have scored 10 or more goals this season, with Setanta O’hAilpin, Devon Smith and Jonathan Giles scoring 35 goals between them. Only O’hAilpin and Jonathon Patton average more than one goal per match, demonstrating how vital Cameron is to this developing side.
Cameron’s impact isn’t just measured in goals, with the tall forward leading the Giants for marks inside 50 with 36, 28 more than his nearest counterpart, as well as contested marks with 16. For a young key position player to be so effective in just his second year of senior football is both incredible and worrisome for opposition supporters.
With the highly-rated Patton going down with injury early in the season, Cameron has been forced to play a lone hand in a young, developing forward line. His most recent match, a career-high seven goals against a Collingwood defence including the likes of Nick Maxwell, Harry O’Brien, Nathan Brown and Lachlan Keeffe, provided the world with a warning of what this man will be capable of in the not-too-distant future.
With a maturing midfield including the likes of Callan Ward, Adam Treloar, Dylan Shiel, Toby Greene, Tom Scully and a raft of talented youngsters, Greater Western Sydney are only going to improve. As these midfielders develop and gain experience, their ball use will become more refined, and will make Jeremy Cameron’s job a lot easier. For a team battling the second-year blues and without a win to their name, Greater Western Sydney and Jeremy Cameron are already causing headaches for opposition teams.