They might be finishing just their second season in the AFL, but the Greater Western Sydney Giants have shown they will not go down without a fight. Under the guidance of veteran Kevin Sheedy, the new boys in town have pushed some of the powerhouse teams until they can go no further.
With GWS coming towards the end of its second season in the AFL, the hype that surrounds the young brigade in the side is no secret. The likes of Jeremy Cameron, who has blossomed this year in the forward line, and Dylan Shiel are fast becoming the core of the Giants side.
Every ounce of pressure the Giants can muster is thrown at the opposition, running with them until the more experienced legs of their opponents run the game out. In round six of the 2013 season, Essendon were under the pump from a determined Giants outfit, signs that the babies wanted to get rid of their moniker.
Winless they may be, but there is so much more to the Giants other than the result each week. Sheedy has been working with youngsters straight out of competitions such as the TAC Cup, blooding talented players to become long term prospects at the club. Adam Tomlinson, an Oakleigh Chargers product, has hit his straps as a tall forward this year. Callan Ward continues to dominate and be a proud leader of the club and Adam Treloar is another player finding his feet after a solid 2012.
Trying to find the right balance by testing a new group of young players week in week out might seem a bit bizarre, but the method is in the same mould of the Gold Coast Suns, who have surprised the AFL with some blistering performances.
Experienced heads around the club, as both players and mentors, have been greatly beneficial to the youngsters making the step up to AFL level from either club or U/19’s football. Luke Power and Chad Cornes were players last year and are both working at the club this year after retirement to help impart knowledge and be a stepping stone for the future.
Being able to find the ability to run out all four quarters against the top teams is one factor of the game the Giants struggle with, the young legs unable to keep up with the seasoned players. Nevertheless, you cannot fault the passion from the second year side.
One to watch
With 50 goals to his name after round 18, Cameron has highlighted just how much of a force he is in the forward line. A good reader of the play, a strong pair of hands and, standing at 194 centimetres, looks to be the first established power forward for the Giants. He is athletic too, giving him the ability to get up the ground a bit as well.
Most impressive about Cameron is his work ethic in the contests. Against Essendon in round 17, Cameron kicked four goals against a series of tall defenders, keeping the Giants in touch until three quarter time. Having the support and delivery is also crucial for Cameron, who is almost forty goals clear of the next highest goal kicker on the Giants list, Setanta O’hAilpin with 13.
Seeking to make a push up the ladder in coming seasons, Cameron is already a leader in his own right, and in 2014 can expect to be given more responsibility in the forward line.
Baby steps they , but the longer the Giants persist, the better the team is going to be in years to come. Sheedy is handing over the reins to Leon Cameron at the end of the season, a fresh face will be ideal to vie for finals, after having built a solid platform. Ward continues to lead from the front, Shiel and ruckman Jonathan Giles keep getting better, and Devon Smith is hard at it in defence and through the middle. It may take time, but when the majority of players have 50 or more games of experience, everyone else look out.