Did the Greater Western Sydney Giants dodge a bullet by not landing Lance Franklin in the off-season? It’s way too early to tell after only one game, but the first round matchup between the Giants and the Sydney Swans may have been a foretelling of things to come. It was an incredible win by the Giants; their first in five Sydney derbies, and the biggest win of their short history to date.
The Swans may have trumped the Giants in nabbing Franklin, but the result confirms what many people were already thinking: the Giants didn’t need him anyway. Their embarrassment of forward line riches comprises the three forwards with the most potential in the league, one of whom wasn’t even playing on the weekend.
For all of the talk about Franklin, it was Jeremy Cameron and Jonathan Patton who were the dominant forwards on the ground, booting four and three goals respectively. The last member of the trio, 2013’s number one draft pick Tom Boyd, had to be content with a run in the GWS reserves where he impressed with a four-goal performance.
But if you look at who else wasn’t playing in the Giants’ senior side, it rams home just how impressive their win over the Swans was.
In addition to Boyd, missing from their team on the weekend were another 10 first round draft picks: Josh Kelly (a pick 2), Cam McCarthy (14), Jon O’Rourke (2), Lachlan Plowman (3), Kristian Jaksch (12), Aidan Corr (14), Will Hoskins-Elliot (4), Matthew Buntine (5), Adam Tomlinson (9) and Liam Sumner (10).
In two or three years’ time the Giants will be so much better than anyone else it’s going to be scary.
Besides possessing a forward line containing the equivalent of Matthew Pavlich, Jonathan Brown and Nick Riewoldt, the rest of the GWS lineup will be sprinkled with serious talent on each line. Even if just half of the abovenamed 10 go on to fulfil their full potential, GWS will have about eight genuine superstar AFL players. Forget about the one-sided thrashings they endured in 2012 and 2013; from 2016 onwards it will be the Giants handing out the beltings to the other clubs.
Let’s hypothesise for a minute. The Giants have two picks 2s. There’s a Dale Thomas and a Nic Naitanui. A pick 3. That’s a Stephen Hill. A pick 4 is a Hamish Hartlett. You could go on. Even a pick 14 is potentially a Grant Birchall.
Having sold the farm in the form of depth players to get Buddy, by the time 2016 comes around the Swans will be lucky to get away with the 32-point defeat we just saw.
If a team’s premiership window is open now, they better be claiming some silverware this year or next (and that’s mainly a message to you, Dockers!). If they don’t, it could be a long wait before the window opens again, given the strength of GWS and the league’s in-built equalisation mechanisms. There’s also the not-so-small matter of the Gold Coast Suns to consider, who are in the same boat as GWS when it comes to their sheer number of high draft picks, albeit without quite the same all-round strength across the length of the ground.
Round 1 2014 marked the arrival of the Giants as, dare I say it, a giant force in the AFL. To comprehensively outplay one of the premiership favourites when the game was on the line in the last quarter was unexpected, but was certainly welcome. Not only because of the feel-good factor of the underdog toppling the favourite. What pleased many AFL watchers about the Giants beating their cross-town rival was the feeling it may not be the last time they could say, “I told you so” about whether the Swans getting Franklin from under the Giants’ noses was in fact the coup the Swans made it out to be.
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