In the lead up to the 2017 season, we will be assessing each club’s list and naming our best 22 for round one. Working our way up the ladder; following the analysis of Hawthorn, the next cab off the rank is Greater Western Sydney.
Zero Hanger 2017 ladder prediction: 1st.
It was a breathtaking preliminary final and easily the best match of the year, but the Giants don’t care about that. For them it was a one goal loss that cost them their spot in the big dance. It was, as Stephen Coniglio has said, the “reality check” that has driven their pre-season.
The Giants have had an interesting off-season since that disappointing night. They shipped out a lot of their depth players, bringing in more first-round draft picks to ensure their eventual success with be sustained. There is also the feeling from most that 2017 will be the Giants’ year. The club seems to be positioning itself for a tilt at the flag. The Gaints have brought in three mature-aged recruits, including former Richmond star Brett Deledio, to tip the balance in their favour. With the narrative surrounding them you would assume the flag is theirs to lose, but winning a premiership is never that simple.
Related: check who is out of contract at the Giants here.
The midfield is the standout strength for this Giants and they have a group that is unrivalled in the competition. The Giants have enormous depth, featuring a plethora of stars and players who can rotate on-ball. They also have two monsters in Shane Mumford and Rory Lobb who provide them with excellent service, they ranked third in hitouts last season. Tom Scully revived his career in 2016 and became one of the elite midfield runners and ball-winners in the AFL. Ward is a terrific captain, and the recruitment of Deledio means they have another star who can be utilised on almost every line and an extra leader on the field.
The forward line is also strong and features the aforementioned Deledio at half-forward. Toby Greene’s conversion to a hard working half forward has been impressive, not many first round picks would be happy to be restricted to that role, but he ran with it last year, ranking third in inside 50s, first in goal assists and being named on the All-Australian half-forward line. Jeremy Cameron was slightly down last year, but Jonathon Patton is starting to impose himself on matches and along with Rory Lobb, they are an imposing trio.
The Giants’ strategy of offloading players surplus to requirements and turning them into first round draft picks is paying off in spades. They have accumulated a host of strong depth players who still have not managed to make my best 22, but will feature throughout the season. Matt Kennedy, Matt Buntine, Aiden Corr, Tim Taranto, Harrison Himmelberg, Harry Perryman and Will Setterfield were all taken in the first round. They also have Lachie Whitfield to return from his six month suspension. It is seriously scary.
As outlined above, there is not a lot of weakness in this Giants team, but their lack of key defenders could hurt them this season. Co-captain Phil Davis is one of the best at his craft, but with the retirement of Joel Patful, Davis’ key defensive partner is not so straightforward.
Adam Tomlinson gets the nod in my side, but he generally played as the third tall last season. Aidan Corr couldn’t break back into the side last year when he recovered from his ankle injury. Tim Mohr has played the role in the past, but has fallen out of favour in the last two years, playing only two games last year. It is the only position where the Giants are not stacked, will they regret letting Caleb Marchbank go to Carlton?
Projected GWS Giants 2017 round one best 22:
FB: Heath Shaw, Phil Davis, Nick Haynes
HB: Zac Williams, Adam Tomlinson, Nathan Wilson
C: Tom Scully, Callan Ward, Ryan Griffen
HF: Brett Deledio, Jeremy Cameron, Toby Greene
FF: Steve Johnson, Jon Patton, Devon Smith
FOL: Shane Mumford, Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio
I/C: Rory Lobb, Josh Kelly, Jacob Hopper, Adam Kennedy
EMG: Matt Kennedy, Matt Buntine, Aidan Corr