SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 27: Stephen Coniglio of the Giants celebrates a goal during the round 6 AFL match between the Sydney Swans and GWS Giants at Sydney Cricket Ground on April 27, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

After breaking through for their first-ever Grand Final in the club’s short history last year, much was expected from the Greater Western Sydney Giants in 2020 to get back to the biggest stage and perhaps go one further.

However, 2020 was a season of disappointment. Not only did they miss out on Finals altogether, but they basically bombed in games that many expected them to take care of with a spot in the eight up for grabs.

To add the cherry on what was on top of the disaster cake, the club had to offload five players to different clubs, placing more question marks on where the club is heading in 2021.

The Giants do enter this year’s AFL Draft with four selections inside the first round, with Picks 10, 13, 15 and 20, as well as pick 26 in the second round - so they won’t be short of young talent come the opening round next year

BEST WIN

Round 8 vs Richmond: With special considerations to their win against Geelong in round one, you can’t go past a win against the eventual premiers.

If that wasn’t enough, this was a win the Giants needed, considering that they had won just two games from five outings in the reset of the season.

The following week the Tigers hit their straps and not many could’ve caught them, but in this game, they shot themselves in the foot, kicking 6.14 – having three more scoring shots than the Giants.

And they took advantage of the wayward Tigers, namely Toby Greene, who kicked five goals for the winners as the Giants took away what was an unlikely victory.

Josh Kelly was also prominent for the Giants in this victory, racking up 26 disposals, as well as eight tackles, eight clearances and a goal.

WORST LOSS

Round 16 vs Adelaide: A week after the Crows recorded their first victory of the season, GWS’ finals chances took a significant hit when Adelaide made it two wins in a row.

The Giants entered on a high, having beat Carlton in an ugly encounter just five days earlier. But they had no answers for Adelaide’s dominance in the contested ball, having been beaten by 30 and beaten in clearances by 10.

GWS couldn't stop Rory Laird, who had 11 clearances and nine tackles to go with his 28 disposals. The Crouch brothers combined for 58 disposals, whilst Reilly O’Brien was dominant in the ruck.

Lachie Whitfield (29 disposals, eight rebound 50s and seven tackles) and Tim Taranto (23 disposals, five clearances) were the Giants’ best.

The loss allowed sides such as the Bulldogs, Carlton and Melbourne to come back into finals contention, with the Dogs ultimately bumping the Giants out of the eight by seasons end.

MVP

Nick Haynes: In a season that has seen the Giants’ back six under more duress this season than most others across the past couple of seasons, Haynes has been as rock-solid as ever.

This year has seen him achieve All-Australian honours for the first time this year as well as being named one of two winners of the Kevin Sheedy Medal as the Giants’ best and fairest.

Haynes averaged 16 disposals, seven marks and 4.2 rebound 50s for the Giants this year.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 18: Nick Haynes of the Giants looks upfield during the round 22 AFL match between the Greater Western Sydney Giants and the Sydney Swans at Spotless Stadium on August 18, 2018 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

MOST IMPROVED

Harry Perryman: After breaking through for 19 games in 2019 for the Giants, Harry Perryman took another step into validating himself in this Giants team in 2020.

He kicked nine goals in his first four games as a forward before being thrown into other positions around the ground to help his team out.

He finished kicking an accurate 11.2, which is a massive improvement from the 2.7 he kicked last year.

He also averaged 18.3 disposals, 2.7 inside 50s and 2.3 rebound 50s per game in a more versatile role.

NEEDS TO LIFT

Stephen Coniglio: The decision to scrap the co-captain model at the start of the year in favour of the newly-resigned Stephen Coniglio was head scratching to some.

By mid-season we started to see him underperform and struggle and by round 17, he was axed ahead of the Giants’ crunch time game against Melbourne, which they lost.

Even in shortened quarters, the numbers dipped drastically for Coniglio this year: 21 disposals, 2.7 marks and 2.3 inside 50s per game as well as firm numbers of 3.8 tackles and 4.3 clearances per game.

INS AND OUTS

IN

Jesse Hogan (Fremantle)
Braydon Preuss (Melbourne)
Pick 10 (Williams Compensation)
Pick 13 (Geelong)
Pick 15 (Geelong)
Pick 20 (Geelong)
Pick 26 (Western Bulldogs)

OUT

Jeremy Cameron (Geelong)
Zac Williams (Carlton)
Aidan Corr (North Melbourne)
Zac Langdon (West Coast)
Jye Caldwell (Essendon)
Pick 44 (Essendon)
Pick 74 (Essendon)
2021 Second Round (Geelong)
2021 Second Round (Geelong)

2021 CRYSTAL BALL 

It’ll be interesting to see whether or not the Giants are still aiming for the stars in 2021. If the Giants board lays that challenge on the table, Leon Cameron’s job might come under intense scrutiny because of all the experience that has left over the past few years.

If they put more of a focus into the likes of Jake Riccardi, Jack Buckley, Tom Green and Xavier O’Halloran and get these kids continuity in their games, GWS probably won’t play finals in 2021, but they’ll be on the right path to get back there once again.

But what does that mean for the likes of Haynes, Coniglio, Kelly and others? Will we see another few players leave for greener pastures?