Another Go at GWS

A few weeks ago I complained that Greater WesternSydneywas using its privileged “out of contract” picks to poach players from lower clubs. Now that the main draft is completed a second question emerges about GWS. Will they have a viable team for their first season?


Phantom pointed out that, unlike Gold Coast, GWS was recruiting from other clubs over a two year period. I suspect he said this mostly to raise the doubtful threat that the Pies may still lose a superstar at the end of 2012. For the purposes of this article that is not the key issue. GWS will be playing AFL in 2012 and I seriously question whether they have a side capable of doing that. It doesn’t matter if they recruit a Scott Pendlebury or Sam Mitchell for 2013. They need their Gary Ablett for 2012… and they don’t have anything like him on their list.


When the Suns were established on the Gold Coast they were set up in an area which has at least some tradition of Australian Rules. Three victories for their first season was a good outcome and there are Aussie Rules fans on the Coast who would be prepared to wait a few years for the Suns to come good.


Apart from some rural areas in inlandQueenslandand NSW,Western Sydneyis the least friendly area for Australian Rules in the whole country. If GWS are to get any support in the region they have to look competitive from their first season. League and Soccer fans will have no interest in potential 2013 recruits next year.


When Gold Coast got their team together, as well as the best kids in last year’s draft it included 15 players aged between 23 and 29. Included amongst those fifteen were one superstar (G. Ablett), two really good players, (Bock and Rischettelli), two really good but inconsistent players (Brennan and Brown), two talented players near the end of injury blighted careers (Fraser and Harris), two players of undoubted talent but limited achievement (N Krakouer and N Ablett), two players on second chances who improved on their initial AFL performances (Stanley and Iles), one player who had been a star in another code of football (Hunt) and three borderline players (Patrick, Tippett and Coad). Even after adding the best of the recruits (Smith, McKenzie and Swallow) it wasn’t a top eight team but it was good enough to beat some lower teams on their day and that is exactly what Gold Coast did.


Greater Western Sydney’s current list includes loads of young draftees, some fine young players poached from lower AFL clubs (and they are all under 23) and four players restored from retirement. McDonald, Brogan, Cornes and especially Power were all great players but none of them were still playing their best football in 2011. McDonald wasn’t even playing in the AFL. The only players that the Giants will have who are aged between 23 and 29 are the 28 year old Carlton reject Setanta O’hAilpin  and three blokes aged 23 and 24 named Tim Mohr, Steve Clifton and Jonathon Giles who have not yet played in the AFL. There are no players comparable with those that allowed the Suns to win three matches this year! Presumably GWS will pick up a few older players in the pre-season draft but they won’t be the standard of G Ablett or even Josh Fraser and Daniel Harris. The best the Giants can hope for might be another Danny Stanley.


Their biggest drawcard will be Israel Folau. Folau has apparently shown promise as a full forward. However this was in the seconds competition where he will not have come up against a Zac Dawson let alone a Chris Tarrant. As for facing star full backs like Scarlett and Glass, even in the twilight of their careers….?


Presumably Sheedy and Allen have some strategy behind the way they are building their team, but I for one can’t see it. How does going through a full season being thumped by every team in the competition build Australian Rules inWestern Sydney?



  1. The loss of a marquee player to an emerging team can be a double edged sword.

    First of all it serverely pisses followers off to have a great player pick pocketed but it can have benefits. This is the down side. I know it well.

    However once the player is gone the tension from the speculation goes too. There is the immediate benefit of having a big chunk of flexibility in the salary cap allowing a club to keep supposed lesser lights who respond to the opportunity.

    The dilema for a club such as Collingwood is that if they get into a bidding war with GWS to keep a player such as Pendlebury they will be even further disadvantaged within the cap and are likely to lose other players. Either way Mr Sheedy will win. By appearing to targett one player they may have a covert plan B which will more than suffice their needs.

    The issue of the expectations (realistic or not) of GWS in their first year I think is a red herring. Tey will stay because that is what the AFL wants and therefore they will throw the kitchen sink at them in the initial period.

    I also am beginning to think that the Sheedy factor has been greatly under estimated by many and is a sleeper in the whole exercise.

    There you are Dave, quite objective and not in the slightest anti Pie.

  2. Pamela Sherpa says

    I object to the word ‘poached ‘being used Dave. Young players and draftees have been recruited from other clubs . The same clubs that sanctioned the AFL’s expansion plan. Will other clubs with a miserable record next season cop the flak they deserve ? Probably not. It will be much easier to target and pick on the new kid on the block won’t it?
    I agree Phantom – Sheeds will have plan B, C and D up his sleeve and probably E, F and G as well.
    The reality is we have a we have a national competition and we are getting a bigger one.
    Enjoy the footy I say, no matter what club you support!

  3. Mark Doyle says

    This article is an irrational whinge from a paranoid Collingwood supporter and parochial Victorian who has never accepted that the elite level adult aussie rules competition is no longer a Melbourne inner suburban competition.
    People should be patient with both Gold Coast and West Sydney for at least two or three years until the majority of their young draftees have played at least 50 games. Comparisons between the drafting strategies of both the new clubs are pointless.
    I do not expect that West Sydney will win more than a ‘hand full’ of games in 2012. However, they may be competitive without winning against the weaker clubs such as Gold Coast, Melbourne, Richmond, Port Adelaide, Brisbane, North Melbourne and Western Bulldogs; especially when playing in Sydney and Canberra. This competitiveness will be largely dependent on the fitness and form of blokes such as Phil Davis, Callan Ward, Rhys Palmer, Tom Scully, Dean Brogan, Chad Cornes, James McDonald and Luke Power.

  4. Dave Nadel says

    There must be something wromg with my communication skills since all three of you managed to miss the point of my article.

    Phanto – what part of “For the purposes of this article that is not the key issue.” do you not understand? This was not about any of the other 17 clubs losing players, it was about GWS not having recruited suitable players for the 2012 season. Your actual argument about salary cap issues and marquee players is probably correct, some Collingwood fans believe that Sheedy is really after Reid or Cloke rather than Pendlebury, but it was not what this article was about.

    Pamela – of course GWS is poaching players. It may be legal poaching with the approval of the AFL and the clubs may have brought it on themselves by agreeing to a specific method of recruiting players but recruiting players that other clubs have spent time and money defeloping before those players have given anything back to their original clubs is poaching. Especially when they are accompanied by the kind of backroom skullduggery that involved offering a bogus job to Tom Scully’s old man, Phil.

    Mark, what a pity your reading and comprehension skills do not match your ability to write third rate abuse. It is quite clear from my article that I support the expansion on the Gold Coast and think that the Suns administration and coach handled their expansion well. As a matter of fact I have always supported the expansion of Australian Football although I think the original development of clubs in Sydney and Brisbane was done very badly, both by the VFL and the other clubs and also by the original owners and officials of the Swans and the Bears, (See Hess and Stewart. More than a Game, MUP, 1998 Chapter 8 or my chapter in The Australian Game of Football published by Slattery Media for the AFL in 2008)

    My article CONTRASTED the professional development (including choice of recruits) of the Gold Coast Suns with the amateur and ill advised development of Western Sydney Giants. The Giants have kids and veterans but no credible players in their peak years. With that playing list I will be surprised if they win any games at all – unlike the Suns who won a credible three in their first season. Western Sydney is a much less fertile area for expansion of Australian Rules than the Gold Coast. For precisely that reason GWS needs early success much more desperately than the Suns did. Perhaps you can answer my question Mark, “How does going through a full season being thumped by every team in the competition build Australian Rules in Western Sydney?”

  5. Skitch’m Dave.

  6. Skip of Skipton says

    I understand the crux of your point and concur, Dave. There is a gaping hole in GWS’s list as you suggest.
    Untried kids, slightly older kids(Davis, Palmer, Scully, Ward, Reid) and pensioners. Nothing in the middle of any note like Ablett, Rischitelli, Bock, Brennan, Brown etc who are at the top of their game. Can’t see them winning a game, or getting within 10 goals really. Teams like Richmond and Port Adelaide who got their pants pulled down by GC last year aren’t going to fall for the same trick twice.

  7. Jamie Simmons says

    A fair assessment Dave. Unquestionably at the same stage of their development, you would have to say The Suns were looking a little healthier. We appear to be asking alot of a region that has little or no interest in AFL to “be patient” with their new team. Why would they? If they had any inclination to part with their hard earned for a club membership, why wouldn’t you just wander down the road and get a Swans membership. At least there’s a chance they’ll play finals in the next three years.
    The novelty value of Folau will wear off quickly and though Scully and Davis “may” develop into fine players they’ll never get bums on seats. There’s a bloke called Fevola, sitting on the sideline, who’s willing to play for minimum wage and (love him or hate him) brings people through the gates. Could they afford not to pick him up? Even if only for one season.
    My fear is that the AFL have ignored the likes of Tassie, the NT, Nth Qld and even (lord forbid) New Zealand for a money pit that will struggle to succeed financially even “if” plan B,C etc. manage to bring on field success. For the sake of the game I love, I hope I’m wrong.

  8. Peter Flynn says

    The ‘guns’ will arrive for 2013.

  9. I hate sheedy.

  10. Well argued Dave. GWS will doubtless be worse than GC in Year 1. But there is no point in copying everyone else’s model. Will the kids lose heart without the middle rank players to guide and protect, or will it help them sort the ‘wheat from the chaff’ quicker and better. I think Sheedy, Gubby and Choco are smart enough to have a viable player/team development model. But I think your argument about Sydney is a stronger one. Sydney does not have a ‘sporting heart’ like other Australian cities. More mammon and main chancers.
    I think the expansion above 16 teams was a huge mistake for the AFL driven by marketers and short term money men, with no capacity to think through long term consequences. Putting one of the expansion teams in Western Sydney is driven by the same marketing demographics that tells you where to build the next Harvey Norman or McDonalds. But consumers and supporters are not the same. In Hobart they may have had a chance – not in Sydney.

  11. Collingwood will not lose anyone to GWS – Eddie knows it, Sheedy knows it.

    This whole thing is just a PR set-piece by the both of them to get some publicity for both clubs… and the media swallows it whole.

    Sheedy will need a few more cards to play when his side doesn’t get within ten goals of anyone next year.

  12. Craig,

    “Sheedy will need a few more cards to play when his side doesn’t get within ten goals of anyone next year”.

    has been duely recorded in the 2011 blog minutes and will be revisited in September 2012.

    “Collingwood will not lose anyone to GWS” is a bit dodgey also and is likely to receive some attention from the Statement Referal Investigation Committee at some time in 2012.

  13. Hate is a very strong word Danni.

    Perhaps you could water it down with something more benign, like:

    I think Sheedy is a despicably disgusting orangutan who makes my skin curl uncontrollably and my breakfast boil into an insipidly volatile liquor that is so rancid I feel like regurgitating.

    I wish that the fleas of a thousand camels descend upon his nose hairs, multuiply and migrate into his mealy old mouth and stifle his voice when he next rings Pendles et al.

    See, that is a much more appropriate response.

  14. Andrew Starkie says

    i couldn’t believe the the size of the ground on TV news the other night. 25,000 seater? That’s bloody big. Will they fill it? ever? I can’t get past the name – Giants. Too US, too basketball.

  15. Phantom- HATE HATE HATE HATE!!!!! -.-

  16. Looks like it’s incurable Danni.

  17. Richard Naco says

    I don’t care how they go, but I do know that I’ll be taking out a membership (now that I’ve coughed up for my Cats’ membership) and attending around 10 of their games this coming season. The name, the colours & the blob logo are all misses for me, however they will easily become the second largest footy club in terms of membership next year (after the Swans). According to my ACT resident brother, there is a real buzz about the Giants there (they ran a spectacular ad campaign in the local meedja chasing members), and a lot of Canberras are exiles from the traditional footy states who will be, like me, sinking in some cash to get this (ad)venture off the ground.

    I wasn’t exactly pleased losing GAblett to the Cold Ghost, but it didn’t exactly hurt them too much (especially as they comprehensively outdrew the Titans whenever their games clashed). Other clubs’ short term pain from GWS will be but a very small price to pay for the critical success of this move. I’m predicting that the Round 1 game against the Swans will be as successful in marketing terms as it will be an abject thrashing on the park, but they will not be hampered by excessively high expectations for quite a while.

    Greater Western Sydney will ultimately succeed, and over the next decade or so will establish our indigenous game on a level of national support, performance & financial security that other codes will only be able to dream about. I’ll always be primarily a Catter, but the Giants are going to be my other side.

    It’s sure going to be a wild ole ride from the get-go!

  18. pamela sherpa says

    Dave – poaching is not legal but recruiting and drafting is. You obviously don’t like the set up but you can’t call it illegal. Call it unfair,grubby or whatever you really think it is but it is incorrect to say players have been poached.

    Richard – I agree, there is huge excitement in Canberra about having a team to follow .I am surprised that the win loss record seems to be the main focus of concern., People will go to the footy because they want to see a decent game .Real support is being there when your team is getting thrashed. No-one expects either new team to be winning many games initially but the new teams are joining the dots in the AFL landscape. Exciting times are ahead.

  19. As a Swans supporter I naturally developed a dislike for the Great Waste of Space from the get go but even I believe their intro into the comp is a win over the seemingly never ending gibberish of Thugby League coverage up here.

    What will be interesting to see is whether our papers dedicate more than that their usual two pages (mostly LARGE PICTURES) to Aussie Rules now that GW$ are finally here?

  20. What do you think now?

  21. Litza,

    three points off ten goals and counting down.

  22. GWS was fast tracked into the competition too quickly. I 100% agree Dave that a new club being flogged every week will attract nothing but tumbleweeds, especially in a city known to harbour fickle supporters. It would only take a few years in the lower reaches for Sydney to be in trouble again. And GWS’ starting point is next to nothing!

    I thought the AFL was an elite competition, not an experiment, or a cart before the horse mechanism to attract a new market of which rugby league has been part of the culture for a century.

    For GWS to work the AFL must lose any sense of impartiality. And that in my book is a disgraceful way to run a professional sport. And pretty hard to cop for supporters whose clubs have been trying in vain to build premiership sides for decades.

  23. Dave Nadel says

    I watched most of Saturday’s game and I haven’t really changed my views. Yes GWS had a better first game than Gold coast did last year, although that may say more about Sydney in 2012 than it does about Western Sydney.

    Its two old men payed very well, but MacDonald will be suspended for two weeks. Even if Brogan and Power do as well when they play as Cornes and MacDonald did all four of them will have trouble staying fit for a whole season. Ward played well but unlike young Gary at Gold Coast I don’t think that he has enough players to kick it to him. Quite a few of the young players showed a little and some of them would be really good in a good team but Sydney was able to shut down GWS whenever they really needed to.

    Sydney rarely kill their opponents but when GWS come up against a team with a strong forward set-up like Hawthorn, Geelong, Collingwood or even Richmond, they will be slaughtered,

Leave a Comment