The history of the GWS Giants is littered with freakish midfielder after freakish midfielder, occupying midfield slots in the All-Australian squad year on year after taking upon apprenticeships under Callan Ward.
And then, like clockwork, the same fledgling stars depart for other clubs in an almost annual merry-go-round.
The question is always who comes next, and with Stephen Coniglio and Josh Kelly off the board, the cuts into the GWS list are deeper.
The next man up is Tom Green, selected from Canberra’s finest as part of the GWS Academy, the 191-centimetre, 92-kilogram beast selected at pick 10 in the 2019 National Draft.
Having only turned 21 this year, Green has erupted into a dynamic, ball-hogging, inside midfielder, good for 31 touches, close enough to 5 marks and 4 tackles, and more contested possession and clearances than you can shake a stick at.
His game is outstanding, and his suitors are numerous. After 2023, Green’s current contract expires. As the grandson of Richmond premiership player Michael Green, the Tigers seem assured to chase hard come the trade period, but it must be said that any club will be gunning for his signature.
Having promised much over his first two seasons – in which Green was dropped on multiple occasions – it’s been a monstrous arrival for the Giants’ new star midfielder, who is still yet to play 30 games.
Clayton Oliver – who stands just four centimetres shorter and plays almost an identical role – is the first comparison: a red-headed, strong-bodied high draft pick with outstanding ball-winning ability.
The comparison, however, isn’t purely a physical one.
In Oliver’s third season, the 2018 campaign where the Demons plunged into a preliminary final after an exciting season, the now-premiership player averaged 29.4 disposals, 16.2 contested possessions, 6.6 clearances, and 7.4 score involvements.
Tom Green this year so far averages 31.3 disposals, 16.0 contested possessions, 7.0 clearances, and 7.7 score involvements.
The compared numbers are markedly similar, with a few outliers. Oliver for instance laid 2.6 more tackles than Green has at the same age and had a much weightier handball-to-kick ratio, while Green has hit the scoreboard more regularly and takes 1.7 marks per game inside 50, compared to Oliver’s 0.5.
Stats aren’t everything though. Take Hawthorn’s drubbing of Port Adelaide in Round 2, where the latter dominated almost every single team stat, yet were very obviously trounced. But watching the curly red hair and broad shoulders of Green emerge from a stoppage with hapless tacklers grabbing for a handhold of orange guernsey does seem very reminiscent of a similar-looking midfielder, who wears the number one higher than Green’s #13.
That Green can push forward and kick goals, and he’s kicked two twice already this year, is indicative that he has the tools to match it with the best of the big-bodied, scoreboard-hitting midfielders: Cripps, Bontempelli, Petracca. It is an early call, but he has the talent and so far is delivering on his game-breaking potential. The question now for Green is sustainability and consistency.
There’s a similar player who was walked a vaulted path. Clayton Oliver is a premiership player, a three-time best and fairest winner, a two-time All-Australian midfielder, and a perennial Brownlow Medal contender. Tom Green might be on the way.