Greater Western Sydney thought outside of the box when recruiting older players last year. Many thought that adding players in their thirties would be rather ineffective. Having said this, GWS have exceeded external expectations, as well as seeing a more rapid development in their younger players than Gold Coast has.
It was clear that a true champion in Luke Power was pushed to the outer and did not receive the send off that he deserved. If the Giants had not picked him up, he would never have reached 300 games. Whilst Power has not been as exceptional as he once was, his leadership has certainly allowed players such as Toby Greene to flourish, as there is less pressure on him.
Most of Greater Western Sydney’s older brigade seem to be close to retirement; all bar Chad Cornes are looking to be at the end of their respective careers. Dean Brogan has been overtaken in the ranks by Jonathan Giles, much like Josh Fraser at the Suns. Power and James McDonald have been serviceable this year, however the Giants’ younger midfielders have proven to be solid enough to take the reins by themselves.
Whilst many of the young stars have come on, the second year blues are imminent, and the Giants may look towards more veterans to succeed their current crop.
It is clear that the Giants need tall marking targets up forward as well as a few taggers, as this would take the pressure off Jon Patton and Jeremy Cameron, as well as aiding the development of their younger midfielders.
There is a plethora of older players who have been unable to break into their club’s best twenty-two on a regular basis.
Essendon has Mark McVeigh and David Hille, who both seem to be too slow for the Bombers’ game plan. Both perhaps still have enough left to play another year. Hille could be the perfect candidate to replace Brogan, whilst McVeigh would replace McDonald.
Port Adelaide has shown no favoritism to their older players as they look to the future. David Rodan certainly still has enough talent and pace to be a solid impact player. He certainly has one, perhaps even two years left in him, provided his body doesn’t break down.
Collingwood and Geelong have both added young players who have slotted in seamlessly. This leaves Alan Didak, Ben Johnson, David Wojinski and Shannon Byrnes on the outer, all of whom could compliment the speed of William Hoskin-Elliot.
Whilst rumoured, it is unlikely that recent retirees in Brad Green and Kelvin Moore will be returning to football. Moore’s body has failed him too many times, which makes him a liability. Green is in a similar boat to Power, as they were respective champions of their clubs.
This may be seen as a disloyal act by supporters. Melbourne knows all about players leaving for GWS, although certainly, Tom Scully and Brad Green are two entirely different cases.
Developing clubs have too often culled older players in an attempt to rebuild the team. The Giants have proved that having a spread of leaders is far more effective in the development of younger players than having two or three superstars to learn from.
It is for this reason that the Giants have been more reliable and predictable than the Suns were in their inaugural season.