The Way-Too-Early 2013 Preview: GWS

Greater Western Sydney

The Greater Western Sydney Giants inaugural year in the AFL will forever be remembered fondly for giving us the vision of a team winning and not knowing the lyrics to their club song.

I’m fascinated by the whole “learning the song” process. How much time was it afforded? Were the players ever explicitly told to memorise it? That seems unlikely, given how unimportant it is in the grand scheme of things. I can’t imagine Sheedy taking any time out of training to “practice the song”, so if  it was ever mentioned, it would’ve been given as homework, which nobody ever does. Can you picture a player coming home after a hard slog on the track, pulling out a folder, finding the sleeve with the song in it, and giving it a thorough read through? Maybe there is some sort of orientation day early in the pre-season where new players get given the song and are told to learn it, but even that relies on the homework factor.

And then there is the actual day of that first victory. May 12th 2012. Round 7 v Gold Coast. Toward the end of the fourth quarter you know some member of the Giants staff had the following thought process:

We are actually going to win….. holy crap we are going to win! It’s going to go off! This is a historic moment! The guys are going to be so ecstatic! Can’t wait for them to sing the song! The song…. how does it go again… oh no…. I have no idea… there are going to be cameras down there… nobody knows the song… it sounds Russian, that’s all I remember…. oh no…. this could be embarrassing… quick, somebody get me a big whiteboard and a copy of the club song! Damn I knew I should have paid attention during orientation.

What we got was a bunch of blokes emphatically belting out the one or two lines they knew, while mumbling through the other 90%. It was gloriously awkward but very endearing.

2012 Key Statistics

Greater Western Sydney 2012 Offensive
Average per Game Competition Rank
Disposals 343.2 15th
Contested Possessions 133 17th
Clearances 35.1 16th
Inside 50s 38.2 18th
Marks Inside 50 7.5 18th
Hitouts 36.1 14th
Goals 8.3 18th

 

Greater Western Sydney 2012 Defensive
Average per Game Competition Rank
Points Against 125.05 18th
Inside 50s Conceded 62.4 18th
Marks Inside 50 Conceded 16.2 18th
Tackles 58 17th

 

Greater Western Sydney  2012 Offensive/Defensive Differentials
Total Competition Rank
Inside 50s Opponent Differential(Total Inside 50s minus Total Inside 50s conceded) -531 18th
Marks Inside 50 Opponent Differential(Total Marks Inside 50 minus Total Marks Inside 50 conceded) -192 18th

 

What are they great at?

They still have that new car smell.

What are they good at?

Considering in most statistical categories the Suns and Giants occupy the bottom two positions, their 14th placing in hitouts and 16th place finish in clearances are nice signs for the Giants. They can get their hands on it.

What do they need to improve?

Everything.

What are they bad at?

You wouldn’t pick on a newborn for not walking 12 hours after birth so we’ll cut them some slack here.

Points of Interest in 2013

Tom Scully

Scully was the prize catch of the Giants poaching efforts, snatched from the hands of Melbourne after they’d barely removed him from his packaging. The Giants encouraged his defection by offering him a six year deal worth six million dollars, placing him among the top handful of players in terms of pay.

No doubt the competition newcomers had to pay a premium to get him across, and paid him on the basis of the player they believe he will become rather than the one they received when he signed on the dotted line. Right now though Scully is being paid like one of the best players in the competition, when it is debatable as to whether he is one of the best players on his own team.

Scully Per Game Averages in 2012

Team Rank

Games

19

Disposals

20.31

6th

Contested Possessions

7.58

6th

Clearances

2.53

8th

Inside 50s

2.79

4th

Tackles

4.47

3rd

Scully has battled with a troublesome knee since his second year at Melbourne, keeping him from full fitness and hindering his first pre-season at his new club. Entering his fourth season at AFL level, he will be hoping to stay fit throughout 2013 and emerge as the player he was touted to be coming out of the draft.

Callan Ward

While Scully was the big news item, Ward quietly assumed the role of the main man in the Western Sydney midfield.

Ward Per Game Averages in 2012

Team Rank

Games

20

Disposals 24.4

2nd

Contested Possessions 12.4

1st

Clearances 5.05

1st

Inside 50s 3.85

1st

Tackles 5

2nd

The former Bulldog hardnut  led the side in several key areas, and could easily have been mistaken as the guy on the million dollar contract.

Jonathon Patton & Jeremy Cameron

In a few years watching Patton and Cameron play is going to be like watching the scene in Jurassic Park where the Tyrannosaurus escapes from its enclosure. Havoc everywhere.

T-Rex
Patton stalking the opposition’s full-back

I can’t recall a more promising young key forward duo in recent memory, and based on the samples we’ve already seen, it’s hard to imagine these two not forming the best partnership in the league as they mature. Watch this space with fear and envy.

Toby Greene

Debut seasons don’t get much better than the one Greene had in 2012. Only seven players across the competition averaged more disposals per game than the Giant.

Greene Per Game Averages in 2012

Team Rank

Games

19

Disposals

28.37

1st

Contested Possessions

10.21

2nd

Clearances

4.63

2nd

Inside 50s

3.32

3rd

Tackles

3.32

10th

From the get go Greene was one of his sides most important players, and he improved as the season progressed. Greene had 30 or more touches in eight of his last nine outings, and the one time he failed to hit thirty he reached the paltry mark of 29. Having set such a high benchmark in his first season, it will be interesting to see whether Greene can improve on his already incredible numbers.

Lachie Whitfield

Widely tipped to be the number one selection come draft time before 2012 even began, Lachie Whitfield is an absolute workhorse with a stunning left foot. The young midfielder is capable on both sides of his body, and has an endurance base similar to that of another recent draftee, West Coast’s Andrew Gaff. Alongside Scully and Coniglio, the Giants could boast three number one draft selections at any given centre bounce. Then there is Greene and Ward and Shiel and Tyson and Smith and Treloar and oh god why are there so many?

Stephen Gilham and Bret Thornton

The Giants sent talented youngster Jed Anderson to Hawthorn in exchange for Gilham and an upgrade of draft selections. It was a pretty lopsided deal, with Anderson widely considered a top fifteen to thirty draft prospect while Gilham is a 28 year old defender who plays best as a third tall. However, the Giants have a boatload of young and talented players, but not that many experienced and “known” quantities in their side. They probably could’ve got more for Anderson in a hypothetical auction, but Gilham obviously represents a need they were happy to overpay for. Like Murphy at the Suns, Gilham will probably slot straight into the backhalf of his new side, and will be relied upon to reduce the pressure on his younger team-mates.

Thornton was selected by the Giants in the pre-season draft after he was de-listed by the Blues. A tall capable of playing forward and back, Thornton will most likely be used as depth at the Giants as they instead give places to their bevy of youngsters or players with a more specialised skill-set, like Gilham.  Cornes and O’hAilpin are two players who can feature in both ends of the ground, and Thornton is likely behind both in the pecking order.

2013 Outlook

The Giants won two games in their inaugural season, which was two more than many would’ve given them at the beginning of the year. They will be hoping to improve on that tally of two in 2013, but I imagine that like the Suns before them, the going in year two will be much the same as it was in year one. Two to four wins is the most likely outcome.

Again, it’s more a matter of improving performances rather than necessarily increasing the amount of victories. Getting games and thus experience into the young side is the priority.

About Adam Ritchie

My name is Adam. I started watching football with two fellow parapsychologists in an abandoned firehouse. When we’re not watching footy, we’re running our own pest control business. What do you mean I stole that from Ghostbusters?

Comments

  1. Peter Schumacher says:

    I must say that I have left your series of articles up as the best reference point for me at least as I try to write something meaningful this year . These have been well researched and interesting reading.

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