Suns v Giants: Who’s had the better start to their AFL life?

It’s been four years since the first of the two new clubs arrived on the AFL stage. Both had a few things in common: being the second team in their respective states, the big name signings and the eyebrow-raising nicknames. First came the Gazza Coast Suns, who warmed (sorry) everyone’s hearts (if you didn’t barrack for Port or Richmond) in their first year. The hairless Hercules drew the crowds, the 19 and 20 year-old recruits drew the sympathy, their stolen win against the Lions, Power and Tigers drew critical acclaim and their three wins didn’t give fans too many reasons to despise the northern team.

Unfortunately, four years later the Suns look like they are still just starting out, or at least that’s how they look on the track at the moment. That isn’t due to a lack of talent, but the loss of players from both problems on and off the field. An extended injury list containing young stars David Swallow, Jaeger O’Meara, Sam Day and Dion Prestia plus the bald magician himself has crippled the midfield while the turnover from the change in coaching staff might’ve affected the still developing youngsters in just their fifth year of professional football. Add to that the club suspensions to Harley Bennell, Trent Mckenzie, Danny Stanley and Brandon Matera, and you’ve got a problem. After a year where the Suns looked like finalists before it was derailed by a Brent Macaffer tackle, the Gold Coast have found themselves needing fairly urgent help, currently sitting in 17th with one win. They can write 2015 off, hold back the breaking of the dam wall for another year, before causing crapped dacks in 2016 with the release of a fully functional team, injury free and absolutely terrifying.

Next year, the tongue-knotting Greater Western Sydney Giants stepped up to the plate. They wear the colours of white (good start), orange (unique, but acceptable) and, err, charcoal (just call it black, Sheeds!) and even had another terribly named rugby convert in Israel Folau. These Giants didn’t rely on their marquee stars on their final lap of the stadium to provide the skills and polish that the teenagers didn’t have, but challenged their youngsters to stand up on the national stage. That they did. While Callan Ward won the inaugural Best & Fairest, Toby Greene, Jezza Cameron, Adam Treloar and Devon Smith showed us just how talented they really are. While they managed one less victory than the preceding Suns, the Giants looked more a complete team than the Gazza Coast Suns.

2015 came around. Hoo boy. The undersized Giants, way too small for their oversized boots, have certainly grown recently. Thoroughly deserving their 5th spot on the ladder after amazing victories over the reigning premiers and Adelaide at the city of churches (there are other cities that contain places of worship, AFL commentators. Ever heard of London, or perhaps Rome??), the Giants are breaking new ground and my tipping hopes. The emergence of unknown incredibly talented youngsters that couldn’t push past the supremely talented youngsters have caused unexpected headaches all over the AFL. Cam McCarthy last year, sat 4th on the tall forward list at the club last year. He’s kicked 22 goals this year. His partner in crime, Jeremy Cameron, has kicked 29, as many he kicked in 2012 and 2014. He sits at number 3 in the Coleman race so far. The two other big forwards that lead McCarthy last year (both number one picks too I might add) are either at a different club or injured. That sounds like the best triple threat of all time.

And it’s not just the big men that frighten the pants off opposition coaching staff. Dylan Shiel sits 6th in the AFL for disposals and fourth on the AFLCA Player of the Year ladder and the Age Footballer of The Year. Shane Mumford rules the skies while Adam Treloar, Callan Ward, Stephen Coniglio and Devon Smith are also capable of wowing spectators and coaches alike.

So, after the two baby clubs have taken the first steps and gone through the difficult teething stage, who’s came out on top? The Giants, by quite a margin, in my belief. This side that will run out onto the park next week is well and truly capable of standing upon the dais on the last/first Saturday of September/October in the next few years. With their insane talent, everyone knew that these Giants would, someday, live up to their moniker. But the charcoal warriors have come from nowhere. No wonder the Coodabeens’ Kayden from Caroline Springs doesn’t know who they are, let alone when they began playing very, very good footy. Whilst this year may not be theirs, it won’t be long now. I reckon orange, white and charcoal confetti wouldn’t look too shabby at all.

The Suns, although insanely undermanned and unGazzaed at the moment, don’t quite look the whole package yet. Without Ablett, the Suns look exposed and leaderless, a problem highlighted by his absence in late 2014 as well as early this year. Although the young Suns will learn to cope without their marquee player, they still might need a few more years to rearrange their squad into a wrecking ball. With the current young talent already on their list and the leadership that another experienced player will provide, a finals berth mightn’t be too far away.

 

About Paddy Grindlay

Paddy is new to the city and thinks it's all a bit much at the moment. He's studying at RMIT University and can be found 'round the traps.

Comments

  1. Todd Allison says

    Interesting then that Gold Coast had a better record at this stage last year than the Giants do now. Remember the Suns started 7-2 last year and had knocked off Richmond and North along the way. So based on results to this part of their development, the Suns were well ahead, having had more wins in each season.

    Things can get derailed quickly and the Suns injury list is astonishing, not just in size, but in quality (O’Meara is as good as any player on the Giants list, Ablett is better than O’Meara).

    Every good young side has a down year after showing promise and they usually come good thereafter. Think Brisbane in 1999 (last after a couple of prelims), three consecutive premierships starting just 2 years later. Geelong in 2006 (fell off the wagon after high finals finishes), three flags in 5 years. Hawthorn in 2009 (pinched the flag a year earlier before their time, then struggled until halfway through 2010), back to back flags and three consecutive GFs.

    The Suns are following this path and the Giants will, too, in the next couple of years.

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