Tag: GWS Giants

Ones to Watch: 2022 Northern Academy prospects

WITH the likes of Harris Andrews (Brisbane Lions), Jack Bowes (Gold Coast SUNS), Tom Green (GWS GIANTS), and Isaac Heeney (Sydney Swans) among the many great Northern Academy products, there are always prospects of note coming out of each region in an AFL Draft sense. While there may not be as many featuring at the top end of this year’s crop, there are still a bunch to consider and plenty more for the future. In a special Ones to Watch edition, we take a look at some of the Northern Academy talents to keep an eye on ahead of next year’s intake.

BRISBANE LIONS

Jaspa Fletcher

Fletcher has somewhat a double-link to the club, being not only an academy member but also a father-son prospect, with his father Adrian playing 107 games for the Brisbane Bears/Lions. Fletcher looms as one of the top Northern State talents heading into 2022, with his speed and class by foot two standout attributes in his game. Fletcher is also extremely versatile, able to fill a role up either end, on a wing or right in the thick of things in the engine room, giving whichever team he plays for a lot of options.

Riley McMillan

A creative player in the forward half of the ground, McMillan has a lot of tricks to win the ball and get himself out of congestion, combining his speed and agility to get clear from opponents and then use the ball well by foot to get it to his teammates. When McMillan has run through the midfield, his positioning around stoppages has been consistently good, with his clean hands in close a crafty weapon.

Bailey Tome

A hard at it inside ball winner, Tome is the type of hard-working midfielder that makes life easier for the outside runners. With impressive movement that allows him to keep up with most opponents and be able to tackle as soon as they grab the ball, it is not uncommon to see Tome lay three or four tackles in a short period, as is his relentless approach.

Others:

Ravi Schofield is an exciting forward that can pinch hit in the midfield and use his athleticism as a weapon. Benjamin McCarthy plays as a reliable defender who can also fill a role forward. Liam McNeil and Thalayn Ryschka are two impressive ruck options for 2022. Will Ashcroft, whilst not an academy prospect, is tied to the club via father-son rules as the son of Marcus. He looks an early top five contender and is currently plying his trade for the Sandringham Dragons at NAB League level.

GOLD COAST SUNS

Jared Eckersley

A high-leaping running defender, Eckersley is another Broadbeach product that was able to impact at Under 19’s level in 2021. He was consistently a roadblock to opposition attacks, contesting well with his spoiling and rebounding effectively with his long kick to get his side back in its front half from defensive 50. 

Cody Harrington

Utilising his speed and smarts, Harrington is a constant danger in the forward half of the ground and can hurt the opposition in plenty of ways. Coming from talent factory Broadbeach, whilst Harrington is more than capable of playing a traditional small forward role, he’s an aerial and one-on-one marking threat, making him a difficult match up for one defender to deal with. To go with all this, Harrington is also a solid tackler, taking opponents down more often than not when he gets a hold. Harrington is a goal sneak as well, able to kick them from anywhere or set them up by hitting teammates with his deadly kick. 

Campbell Lake

Popping up all over the ground regardless of his starting position, Lake is a hard working midfielder with genuine will to run both ways and win the football. A Labrador product, Lake combines this work-rate with quality disposal, particularly when heading inside 50, often looking to hit up leading forwards or putting it where he wants them to go.

Others:

Levi Fyffe and Joshua Young are high leaping and exciting forwardline targets who have formed a dangerous duo when playing together, with the two often working up the ground as well to be link up options. Kye Reynoldson is a winger who can also play half-back that turns opponents inside out with his evasiveness, and possesses a penetrating kick. Taine Dawson rotates between the forward line and the ruck, with some impressive speed off the mark and a high leap that makes him a danger around the ground.

GWS GIANTS

Angus Curry

Currently boarding as Wesley College, Curry has had a few more chances to impress than a lot of other Northern Academy prospects for 2022; playing for Wesley, Oakleigh Chargers in the Under 17 series and the GWS Academy at different times. Curry doesn’t let his shorter stature hold him back, showing a lot of tenacity with his approach to contests and tackles, but also balancing that with quality ball use when he wins it.

Luke Lawrence

Looming as a dangerous midfielder that can rest forward in the future, Lawrence has made the most of his limited appearances in 2021 – including a three-goal haul in his only NAB League appearance. Mostly playing through the midfield through the academy series, Lawrence’s ability to get away from, or around, opponents with his speed and agility is eye catching, while his ability to find the right handball option in close most impressive.

Dayne Posthuma

Posthuma is a no fuss tall defender, remaining consistently accountable for his own opponent whilst drifting across and intercepting in front of contests to aid his teammates. The 197cm Queanbeyan product has a good leap and read of the ball, as well as a deceiving amount of speed, where he usually follows up with clean ball use.

Others:

Nick Madden is a strong bodied ruck who is already 203cm and is strong one-on-one, providing headaches for opposition as he positions down the line to take intercept marks. Harry Rowston is an in and under midfielder that can be damaging with his disposal, able to get through traffic and provide second efforts. Nathan Battaglia provides an athletic option up forward capable of getting high on opposition shoulders with plenty more to work with going into the future.

SYDNEY SWANS

Tye Gander

An athletic medium forward option, Gander is electric around the contest and even more exciting when leading up at the footy, getting on an opponents’ shoulders without putting a hand on them and sticking high marks or selling candy to open up more space, Gander is capable of it all. His leap is such a strength it is not uncommon to see him rotate through the ruck and win some contests, then follow up his own tap at ground level.

Billy King

A physically imposing but also athletic ruck and forward option, King wins most ruck contests he attends; able to out-body opponents well, but just as capable of leaping over them even when giving up a little bit of height. What makes King so dangerous is his strong marking when resting forward and good leading patterns, making him a danger when he gets on the move inside 50.

Joshua Nicholls

With a nice bit of speed to help him, Nicholls can fill in role up either end, on a wing or even through the midfield, applying the same level of intent to win the ball and use it. A jack of all trades type, Nicholls is good across the board with his skills and footy IQ, making him particularly dangerous when given the freedom to roam around the ground and impact where he sees fit.

Others:

William Sabolch is a solid defender that can run through the midfield, with his ball use particularly impressive out of the back half and resulting in a lot of attacking plays. Bililign Robertson plays mostly on a wing but is more than comfortable in congestion where he can find a backwards handball option, whilst Christian Webster is a taller option that can play up either end with a good mark. Indhi Kirk, the oldest child of Brett, is also in the academy and possesses some impressive tricks as a small forward, whilst fellow club legend Michael O’Loughlin has had his nephew TJ Speedy Coe recently switch across from rugby, bringing a lot of speed and excitement to the forwardline.

Kai’s the limit for talented Watts

FOR many young guns coming through the ranks in their football career, the journey contains big cities and luxury to support their career. For GWS Academy member Kai Watts, it’s a three-hour bus ride on the way to brutal fitness testing. This is a sacrifice he is willing to make in order to follow his dream of making the AFL in the upcoming draft.

A speedy mid-forward, Watts began his football journey in Wagga Wagga, playing in his hometown for the first 15 years of his life. Watts then moved to Sydney to complete his year 11 and 12 studies, but his football passion remained, playing for the Western Suburbs Magpies at Premier League level.

Watts says his football journey looked a second priority, before a surprising decision saw him focus all his energy on the sport he thrives in.

“Obviously I came through from under-12’s and 13’s, but I wasn’t really doing much Academy. I was more choosing another sport over AFL.

“I turned the tables one day and just wanted to focus on footy, and from under-15’s, 16’s, 17’s and 18’s now, I’ve just been with the Giants and loving every moment of it.”

Watts has been one to keep an eye on for a number of years now, but his shining moment came in 2019, winning his state’s Under-16 MVP award.

With the ability to both use his speed in the midfield, and hit the scoreboard in the forward line, Watts will likely prove quite a valuable asset with the shape of the modern game, with mid-forward rotations nearly essential at the top level, especially with his strong skills by foot and ferocious tackling.

With midfielders only getting taller as the game goes forward, Watts claims he thrives on playing against bigger bodies, allowing him to use his strength around the contest.

Now deep into his journey to the AFL, Watts says he still has plenty of fun running on to the field with some of his mates who have shared the journey along the way.

“I love playing footy against them when we play intra-clubs, but when I’m on their team it’s always good fun.”

With the 2021 AFL draft just around the corner, Watts says he will be looking to improve his fitness levels moving forward, a goal quite achievable given his current work ethic holding him in good stead for a number of years.

Despite a COVID-interrupted season, Watts has still managed to catch the eye of spectators when he has been able to hit the field, so expect to hear more about him in the next couple of months.

 

Picture credit: GWS Giants Academy via Facebook

2020 AFL Draft Standouts: Brisbane and GWS

AHEAD of the 2021 AFL National Draft, we cast our eyes back 12 months ago to when the newest draftees had their names read out, and what they have accomplished since at the elite level. In the fifth piece of 2020 AFL Draft standouts (first chance at AFL level), we look at the 5th and 6th placed teams in GWS and Brisbane.

GWS:

#12 Tanner Bruhn
#15 Conor Stone
#18 Ryan Angwin
#58 Cameron Fleeton
#59 Jacob Wehr

The GIANTS entered this draft following a disappointing season, with a goal of adding some high quality young talent to form the future of the club. Their first selection came in the form of Geelong Falcons midfielder Tanner Bruhn, who had showed at lower level his ability to read the play and win the contested ball. Bruhn made his debut in Round 1, finishing the contest with nine disposals, five contested possessions and three score involvements as his side fell to St Kilda by eight points. He would go on to play 13 out of a possible 25 games for the year. He racked up a career-high 14 disposals in the GIANTS’ win against Richmond, while his strongest all-around performance came in round 21 against Geelong, where Bruhn recorded 12 disposals, four marks, five tackles and a goal, proving to be a vital contributor in his side’s upset win over the Cats. The 19-year-old retained his spot through the GIANTS’ two finals and despite the semi-final loss, Bruhn looked lively when the ball entered his team’s forward 50. With plenty to build on, Bruhn can hold his head high after an impressive debut season.

The GIANTS’ next pick in the draft was used to select Conor Stone, a youngster who can play at either end of the field and had shown his decision-making and skill by foot. With the GIANTS losing rebounding defender Zac Williams to Carlton in the free agency period, the door opened for Stone to make his debut in Round 4, where he recorded 11 disposals, two marks, two tackles and two intercept possessions, playing off half-back as his side defeated Collingwood by five goals. He built on this performance with an impressive display the following week, gathering 13 touches (at 85 per cent efficiency), four marks, six contested possessions and five score involvements in the GIANTS’ two-point win over the Swans. He would finish off the season with five games played and some valuable experience under his belt.

The GIANTS’ three remaining draft picks would not feature in the 2021 season, but were able to develop in the Victorian Football League (VFL). Ryan Angwin, a classy left-footed defender/forward, averaged 15 disposals, while Jacob Wehr averaged an impressive 18 touches per game. Defender Cameron Fleeton was able to work on his defensive craft, playing on some of the VFL’s best forwards throughout the year.

 

Brisbane:

#24 Blake Coleman
#43 Harry Sharp
#48 Henry Smith

The Lions had an excellent 2020 season, making the preliminary finals, but this caused them to enter the draft with a weaker hand than other clubs. The Lions’ first pick selected Blake Coleman, an electric small forward fresh off a QAFL premiership with Morningside. With his older brother Keidean finding himself in Brisbane’s best 22 as a defender throughout the season, the Lions had high hopes for the next Coleman. With Brisbane’s forward line stacked with the likes of Charlie Cameron and Lincoln McCarthy at AFL level, Coleman was forced to bide his time in the VFL, where he averaged 13 disposals and kicked six goals in 10 games.

The Lions then used their 43rd pick in the draft to select Harry Sharp, a running defender from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels who had the ability to break into the Lions’ side almost immediately with his outstanding time trial numbers and professionalism. Sharp debuted in round one against the Swans, recording 11 disposals and laying three tackles in an eye-catching outing for the defender. Unfortunately, injuries prevented Sharp from continuity within the side, playing just two games for the senior side and four in the VFL. Sharp’s short stint was still able to impress fans with his gut-running, and the 19-year-old will be looking for a clean bill of health to help him break into the senior side in 2022.

The Lions’ final pick was used to take Henry Smith, a young ruckman from South Australia standing at a whopping 206cm. The club is hopeful he will take the mould of current ruckman Oscar McInerney, and while he did not feature at senior level, Smith averaged nine disposals a game in the VFL while booting 12 goals in eight matches.

 

Picture credit: Getty Images

“Competitive” Voss looks for consistency

WATCH Patrick Voss once, and you will know exactly what he is about. The hard-at-it Oakleigh Chargers utility brings a physical, no nonsense kind of style to the field, sighting “competitiveness” as one of his strengths. With powerful fend-offs, bruising tackles and strong overhead marking, the 18-year-old has certainly lived up to that call in 2021.

The Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Giants Academy member, who hails from Wagga Wagga, said during preseason that he was looking forward to getting a run in midfield this year. Having started up forward for Oakleigh before transitioning down back and enjoying spurts in the engine room, Voss has seen a bit of everything.

“I’ve improved on my fitness and that side of things,” Voss said. “I’m more a key forward but also through Giants and maybe Oakleigh I’m looking to play a bit in the midfield. I’ve been working on that side of the game so I’m looking forward to it.”

Along with the shift in roles, the versatile 192cm talent has been able to string together a good run of games at NAB League level despite the many disruptions. Voss turned out six times for the Chargers and once for the Giants Academy, linking with a few old mates in May. Some of the “consistency” he found lead to selection in the Under 19 Allies squad.

“A bit like the other boys, I want to play some consistent footy,” he said. “That’s with the Giants and I’m in Melbourne so hopefully I can play some consistent footy up there and get a few games with the Allies.

“I’m definitely looking forward to playing with Lachie Rankin, Alex Lukic, all the boys. Then with the Giants, probably my best mate Josh Fahey, I haven’t played with him for a while so it should be good.”

Patrick Voss representing the U16 NSW/ACT Rams in 2019

Developing a sense of consistency can be difficult at the best of times – especially in the current climate of uncertainty, or when you’re representing multiple teams. Voss has been tied to his local side, the Giants Academy, Oakleigh Chargers, Wesley College, and the NSW/ACT Rams and Allies at representative level over the years.

Still, he has managed to develop his game at the high level those sides compete at, with some more improvements to come.

“I’m pretty competitive and big-bodied so that works to my advantage a bit,” Voss said. “There’s lots of things I can improve on. Probably using both sides of my body and using clean hands, stuff like that.”

The season is quickly wrapping up and while hope of completing an improvised NAB League finals series or National Championships remains in the balance, Voss impressed enough to earn a National Combine invite. He is one of five talents out of the NSW/ACT pool to receive such honours, along with 85 other players around the nation.

Image Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos

Academy skipper Frost runs hot in 2021

PART of the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) GIANTS Academy since he was 12, Sam Frost‘s journey to top-age status hasn’t always been smooth. They 18-year-old, who is also a talented cricketer, has battled injury along the way and worked hard to go from being a “fringe” player to eventually skippering the academy in 2021.

“I was always one who was on the fringe,” Frost said. “I wasn’t getting picked for a few teams and whatnot, but I was a cricketer as well so in Under 16s I chose footy over cricket and put all my effort into that. Obviously when you put your focus into one thing it makes it a lot better than when you’re separating your attention. I think it helped me break into the side for sure.

“I’ve had a fair few setbacks too. In 2015 I had two stress fractures in each foot, so I had to wear two moon boots for 13 weeks which wasn’t great. I had a stress fracture in my back, a broken finger, shin splints and a few other growing sort of things. I’ve been a bit unlucky with a few injuries but had a good preseason this year so I’m hoping to have a big season.”

Frost delivered on that hope in an outstanding NAB League stint with the GIANTS, leading them to four wins in as many games. The defender was remarkably consistent, averaging 28.8 disposals, 6.3 marks and 9.0 rebound 50s per outing, before going on to join the GIANTS’ VFL program for a handful of state league appearances.

As the centrepiece of his side’s back six, Frost showcased his weapons at the Under 19 level. Blessed with a booming kick and eye-catching intercept marking prowess, the budding prospect says he likes to play an “attacking” game across half-back, but still has some room to improve.

“I can probably work on my fitness aspects,” he said. “Also defensively, competing every time and not getting beaten. I just want to be really competitive.”

During preseason, Frost talked up GWS’ academy talent and said he was looking forward to “playing some good footy and getting a few wins” en route to his end goal of being drafted. While his earmarked clash against the Oakleigh Chargers did not eventuate, Frost still managed to tick off those goals.

“I’m looking forward to playing with all the boys,” he said. “I’ve got a few close mates in the group like Josh Fahey and Brad Rauter, but they’re all good players with a lot of talent. It’ll be good to play alongside them and I’m looking forward to it.”

Fahey dashes towards footballing dream

ARGUABLY this year’s leading Northern Academy prospect has turned out for two of them across his footballing journey, but returned home in 2021 as he looks to materialise his AFL dream. That prospect is Greater Western Sydney (GWS) Academy standout Josh Fahey, and Canberra is home to him.

His academy eligibility was up in the air last year as he moved with family up to Queensland, linking up with the Gold Coast Suns’ program and looking likely to enter the open draft this year. But schooling and the allure of a home within the Giants family brought Fahey back to his roots, also confirming his status as a GWS-eligible talent.

The dashing defender put his name in lights in April, turning out for the AFL Academy in a 130-point thrashing at the hands of Geelong VFL. While the result was not ideal, Fahey took out the MCC President’s Medal as best afield for the Under 19 team, collecting 23 disposals as part of a besieged back six.

During preseason, Fahey highlighted the showcase game as a landmark he was most looking forward to reaching this season. With the opportunity to better his own game by playing alongside the best footballers this country has to offer, Fahey shone.

“Being part of the AFL Academy, playing with the best players in the country I think I can learn a lot off them,” Fahey said. “I’m looking forward to playing with most of the Melbourne boys really. Obviously they’ve got that stereotype down there of how good they actually are… just playing with them I think is going to take my game to another level.”

While injury slightly disrupted his campaign early on, Fahey has also turned out for GWS at state league level this season. Across three games, his best outing came against reigning VFL premier Richmond in Round 5, where he notched 24 disposals. He continued his taste of senior football with local side, Queanbeyan in the AFL Canberra competition, making for quite a diverse schedule.

Hailing from the Canberra region and with family ties in other sporting codes, it has not always been footy for Fahey. The 17-year-old marks his Under 15 SSA All Australian selection as a turning point in his chosen career path, which lead him to state Under 16 selection and the aforementioned AFL Academy honours.

“I’ve only played (Australian football) for five years now,” Fahey said. “I grew up with League and Union my whole life because dad coached Rugby Union at a pretty high level… so I’ve been here for five years and don’t regret a thing coming over.”

“Under 15s was the main thing when I made the All Australian team and was only playing at club level every now and then. That’s probably the main thing that got me over the line really.”

Fahey says tackling is the main facet of either rugby code he has managed to transfer to football. Though it is a strength, the 186cm prospect’s speed and penetrative kick are arguably his most eye-catching traits.

“I wouldn’t say (tackling) is my greatest strength but it’s maybe above average compared to others,” he said. “At the end of the day my game comes down to my kicking and I judge how impactful I was on the field that day through my kicking and targets.”

“The main thing I’m working on is taking my aerial game to another level. Being 186cm I think I can really use that to my advantage this year.”

While current and future opportunities are slightly blurred as most of the nation endures lockdown protocols, Fahey’s end goal is clear – get drafted. The run-and-gun defender has shown top 25 potential at his peak, though the Giants will likely hope to keep that under wraps.

Image Credit: AFL Photos

2021 AFLW Draft club review: GWS GIANTS

NOW the AFL Women’s Draft is done and dusted, Draft Central will review each club’s draft hand, and provide supporters with all the content they need to know about the latest additions to their AFL Women’s programs. We continue the club-by-club reviews with GWS GIANTS.

#37 Ally Morphett (Ruck)
11/11/2003 | 188cm
Murray Bushrangers / NSW-ACT

A member of the AFL Women’s Academy, the Wagga Wagga talent had a consistent year through the ruck for Murray Bushrangers, GWS GIANTS Academy and then the Allies, a side which she captained throughout the AFL Women’s Under 19 Championships. Possessing great strength and competitiveness in the air, Morphett has a penetrating kick to go with her strong hands, making her a potential key forward at the next level with her ruck work. She is someone who has the size on most others at 188cm and is hard to move once she has front position.

ALLY MORPHETT CONTENT:

>> Morphett’s football journey all about enjoyment

>> Q&A: Ally Morphett & India Lehman (Murray Bushrangers) 

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Rucks

#49 Jess Doyle (Medium Forward/Midfielder)
15/09/2003 | 170cm
Manly Warringah Wolves / NSW-ACT

A clean and composed user of the ball, Doyle came on in leaps and bounds in 2021, starting as a raw talent with plenty of potential, and finishing as one of the draft class’ top talents. The NSW-ACT AFL Women’s Academy member aligned to the Sydney Swans, captained the red and white in their first NAB League Girls game, and stood up under pressure to kick two goals to lead the to a win over eventual grand finalists, Geelong Falcons. She showed the same class and ball-handling ability at AFLW Under 19 Championships level, where she was one of the bet performing Allies players to earn All-Australian honours. Doyle also ran out with Williamstown in the VFLW for some extra senior league experience.

JESSICA DOYLE CONTENT:

>> Competitive Doyle embraces “amazing opportunity”

>> AFLW Draft Positional Analysis: Tall/Medium Forwards

#55 Brodee Mowbray (Balanced Midfielder)
02/09/2002 | 168cm
Southern Power / NSW-ACT

A tackling machine, Mowbray is a talent who has progressed through the GWS GIANTS Academy ranks after crossing to Australian rules football from netball and Oztag. She is a fierce competitor who loves the contested work, but often uses her high-level running capacity to have an impact on a wing or down the ground. She averaged a massive nine tackles and eight disposals at the AFLW Under 19s Championships, showcasing a high work rate and good speed to-boot. Mowbray is one who adds that extra toughness at the ball and around the ground with her attitude and work ethic.

#59 Georgie Fowler (Medium Forward)
19/12/2003 | 167cm
East Coast Eagles / NSW-ACT

A late bloomer who has overcome injuries, Fowler has put together a strong season for the East Coast Eagles in the AFL Sydney competition, where she has become renowned for her forward craft. Possessing a mix of power and speed on the lead, strength overhead and a reliable set shot for goal, Fowler’s delayed start to the season did not slow her down, earning a Rising Star nomination in Round 2 of the competition. As a December-born talent, Fowler still has plenty of upside and room for improvement in the future, and adds a different dynamic to the GIANTS’ forward line going forward.

#60 Casidhe Simmons (Medium Forward/Wing)
06/02/1995
UNSW/ES Bulldogs / NSW-ACT

Simmons was a surprise pick out of the blue, with the GIANTS opting to give the former heptathlete a chance. Unsurprisingly, Simmons has elite-level athleticism and endurance which will help her work over opponents, she has been playing for the UNSW-ES Bulldogs in the AFL Sydney competition. Still only 26-years-old, Simmons has been utilised as a forward for the Bulldogs, and can play further up the ground along a way to really showcase her hard-running ability. One to watch for the long-term development and transition to the elite level.

#61 Erin Todd (Tall Defender)
03/02/1986 | 176cm
Inner West Magpies / NSW-ACT

With the final selection in the AFL Women’s Draft, the GIANTS redrafted Erin Todd, a former basketballer who played two games with the club in 2021. As a negating defender in the back half, Todd provides extra depth to the side, and at 35-years-old is one of the oldest players running around in the competition. Seemingly ageless though, Todd was running around for the Inner West Magpies and is a player who can make an immediate impact if chosen. Todd also played two games for Williamstown in the VFLW where she dominated, averaging 18.5 disposals.

DRAFT SUMMARY:

GWS GIANTS can have their pick of the NSW-ACT zone as the sole team occupying the zone. Being able to pick up two AFLW Academy members in Morphett and Doyle adds extra strength and class to the side, and ones who they can add to the forward half of the ground. Scoring was clearly a key focus for the club going forward, picking up the exciting Fowler, along with Simmons and Mowbray who can both rotate forward or play through the midfield. Todd just provides that support in the back 50, and is an immediate replacement should injury strike the GIANTS’ defence. She showed she can win the ball at VFLW level so could play a more offensive role if needed.

Scouting Notes: 2021 NAB League Boys – Round 6

THE 2021 NAB League season rolled on over the weekend despite a fourth Victorian lockdown, with a pair of Northern Academy derbies making up the extent of the Round 6 fixtures. It meant budding AFL Draft prospects from around the nation got their chance to shine on centre stage, and a good number of them impressed. Check out the top performers from both fixtures in our opinion-based Scouting Notes.

>> RESULTS: Round 6 snapshot

GWS GIANTS Academy 10.9 (69) def. Sydney Swans Academy 9.9 (63)
By: Michael Alvaro

GIANTS Academy:

#7 Matthew Hamblin

Hamblin finished as the most prolific GIANTS midfielder with 27 disposals and proved a productive runner among the centre bounce group. He showed a good step through traffic and was able to zip onto the outer with a few quick steps before disposing of the ball cleanly. Complimenting those bursts was one excellent example of repeat running in the second term, where Hamblin was involved at half-back, got the ball again as the GIANTS transitioned through the corridor, and was rewarded for his running effort as he received inside 50 and slotted a goal on the fly. He could have added a couple more majors, but put shots wide in terms one and four.

#21 Fraser Kelly

Kelly was one who rotated forward from midfield and had an impact in both roles, collecting 18 disposals and booting three goals. He finished well on the day and his third major was an important one to level the scores in term four, snapping home with aplomb. Around the ball, he showed clean hands and the ability to get his arms up while being tackled to keep the play moving. While some of his handball distribution fell short of the intended targets, Kelly looked stylish in tight spaces and under solid pressure at the contest.

#24 Sam Frost

The GIANTS Academy leader was a dominant aerial force across his side’s defensive 50, rising to take 10 grabs and looking to generate some forward momentum by foot on the rebound. He took on the kick-in duties, which aided his road to 30 disposals (24 kicks), and looked to have sharpened his execution a touch this time out. Frost’s intercept marking was the highlight of his game though, as he sat on opponents’ heads in one-on-one contests and floated across to cut off an array of Sydney attacks. It’s clear what his key strength is, and he played to it perfectly on this occasion.

#31 Josh Green

A top-age prospect who has garnered interest for the mid-season draft, Green was solid in this outing without being dominant. He used his strong frame on the inside to get over the ball and distribute out of congestion, with 18 of his 25 disposals coming by hand. He was clean in those situations, even under tackling pressure, and brought his teammates into the game by playing to his primary strength in congestion. Green also rotated forward and took a couple of decent grabs, with a two-bite mark in the second term leading to his lone goal of the game – a set shot conversion from 40 metres out.

Swans Academy:

#3 Felix Rogers

Rogers clearly has no trouble finding the ball and again proved as much by accumulating a game-high 34 disposals both inside and away from the contest. He positioned well at the back of stoppages to receive second possession and be released to burst forward with a short run and kick. The 18-year-old also turned feeder himself and found a way to consistently get his hands on the ball, while spreading well to accumulate around the ground. He lifted in term four when the game was on the line, getting busy in midfield despite his side falling short. Rogers also hit the scoreboard with a set shot goal in the third quarter and was arguably best afield.

#7 Pierce Roseby

Another small Swans midfielder who finds the ball at will, Roseby worked hard all day for his side in an offensive and defensive sense. He worked back well when stationed in midfield to provide an outlet option, generally using the ball well with his short kicking game. Roseby used the same kind of method forward of centre too, often marking inside 50 but looking to find the next short option within the arc. He seemed to spend a bit more time up forward in the second half but presented right up the ground and covered plenty of territory in the process, helping his side link out of defence and along the outer.

#15 Jeremy Woodford

Woodford was one who showed great class in possession and made his kicks count, despite not racking up as much as others. Stationed on the wing and moving the ball forward of centre, Woodford was able to link the Swans into attack from the outer, weighting well directed passes to centre half-forward and inside attacking 50. One such pass was a goal assist for Hugh McLeod in the second term, and that kind of execution proved a weapon at times. Woodford was also thrown into the centre bounces and showed nice spurts of agility, but looked more comfortable when operating in space and given the time to hit a target going forward.

#26 Angus Anderson

Providing a hard edge on the inside, Anderson competed well and looked to help set the tone for Sydney. He built into the game steadily, proving strong at the contest with attempts to bustle out of congestion and break tackles with strength. Those kind of efforts meant Anderson had a good amount of presence at stoppages, but he also spread well to boot a goal on the run in term two, while also dropping back to find the ball in defence when required.

Brisbane Lions Academy 7.7 (49) def. by Gold Coast SUNS Academy 13.18 (96)
By: Declan Reeve

Lions Academy:

#12 Saxon Crozier

Considered unlucky by some not to be picked up in last year’s draft, Crozier showed that he’s since worked on his football to enhance his stocks for this season. With one particular knock last season being his inside game, Crozier played the majority of the contest as a rover on his way to a game-high 34 disposals. He won the first clearance of the day which set the tone for how he would play, utilising his positional awareness and speed to win the ball around the ground and then use it well, especially when kicking, to get the Lions into good spots. He balanced his performance well, also featuring on the wing at times where he showed what people already knew he could do, holding his space and being a switch option before getting the ball and pumping it forward.

#23 Charlie Bowes

Utilising his speed and deadly long kick, Bowes was one of the standout users of the footy throughout the game. He often leant on his penetrative kick to break lines and get the ball well clear of the defensive 50. When he took the kick-ins, he’d back in his speed and take on the opponent on the mark, then once he had run his distance, kick it 50-plus meters low and hard to give his leading teammates the best chance of holding onto it. Not only able to bullet his kicks, when required he weighted them well for a teammate to run onto and take easily.

#26 Jack Briskey

The former Collingwood train-on player was solid defensively and dangerous offensively, providing a well rounded performance that is sure to catch some eyes. He was strong overhead, even when under pressure, to hold most marks he should’ve taken. His follow up disposal was also generally good, though missing a few kicks or failing to get much penetration remains an area of improvement. What’s most impressive about Briskey is his athleticism for a bigman – he possesses great speed which saw him go for a couple of runs, one in the second quarter was particularly notable, where he took on two opponents and took a couple of bounces, then kicked long inside 50. That speed, along with his great leap meant that he rarely allowed his opponents to take marks near him, as he could close down the space extremely quickly and then compete in the air to get a fist in and spoil the mark.

SUNS Academy:

#2 Max Pescud

Splitting his time between the forwardline and midfield, Pescud was arguably the spark that got Gold Coast piling on scores in the second and fourth quarters, bringing a nice bit of zip to the midfield group when he got the ball. He generally used it well, more inclined to place the ball in front of teammates rather than bullet it directly at them, making it easier to hold onto. When in the forwardline he was always dangerous, kicking the Suns’ first two goals of the game; one from a strong lead when the Suns got a turnover, and the next from crumbing from a pack and snapping it through the middle.

#4 Austin Harris

Whilst not accumulating massive numbers, the AFL Academy member added a bit of class out of the back half for the Suns, with his ball use and speed especially dangerous in transition. He got into the right spots trying to receive a handball on the outside of packs, with the times he was used in those situations generally resulting in a penetrating kick forward. Had an impressive display of composure in the third term, where he got the ball and managed to evade two opponents, then break a tackle and kick the ball laterally to a teammate. Through his efforts to be involved even when the ball wasn’t in the backline, he got up the ground and snagged a goal in the second quarter. He occasionally tried to do too much or opt for unrealistic targets, which is an area of his game he can look to iron out.

#22 Bailey Reeves

Starting the game up forward before being promptly moved into the midfield, Reeves was one of the leading ball winners for the Suns. In midfield, his balanced disposal was vital to his side winning the midfield battle, as he would often get first hands on it around the stoppages and then move it on via hand to an outside runner or kick long forward. In open play his kicking was accurate and sharp, giving his leading forwards to best chance to hold onto it and maintain their separation.

#35 Will Bella

The most dominant forward in the contest, Bella was able to easily out-body and out-reach opposition defenders in marking contests, making it almost a sure thing he was going to win one-on-ones. As the Lions defenders caught onto this strength, they started to look to outnumber him, forcing him to start leading a bit more and look to create separation which he did to varying success. He would’ve had more than just two goals if he had been a bit more accurate, with that conversion a part of his game that he’ll certainly look to work on. Looked comfortably the best ruck when he was rotating through there, winning taps and doing well as a ‘kick behind the play’ player.

2021 AFLW Preview: GWS Giants

GWS has been one of the competition’s most consistently solid teams since inauguration, without really breaking through and joining the elites. Last year, the Giants took a massive step towards that status with the club’s first ever finals appearance in its winningest campaign to date. In 2021, the foundation side will again look to match it with the best and go one step further with a postseason victory.

2020 RECAP

Not much was expected of the Giants in 2020, but they broke through for their most successful season yet with four regular season wins and a maiden finals appearance. Unfortunately, their run came to a heartbreaking end at the hands of Melbourne, who beat them by three points in a dramatic come-from-behind effort at GIANTS Stadium.

Earlier in the year, the Giants went win-for-loss in the first five rounds before breaking through for consecutive victories on the eve of finals, placing them second in Conference A at 4-2 overall. A redemptive Round 6 win over Adelaide and one-point opening round thriller against Gold Coast were the highlights, as GWS became a side able to win the games expected of them while remaining just a step off the absolute contenders.

NEW FACES

Former Melbourne youngster Katherine Smith was GWS’ sole trade signing, joining the orange and charcoal on a two-year deal and promising to add some versatility to the squad. While predominantly known as a defender, the Victorian is also able to play as an inside midfielder and is in a good age bracket for her new side’s direction. She spent all of 2020 on the sidelines after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) but should make a return this season.

With Yvonne Bonner out of action in 2021, the Giants picked up another Irishwoman in Brid Stack, who unfortunately suffered a serious neck injury in the club’s preseason hitout against Adelaide. The Giants took on a trio of players at the draft and one undrafted free agent in 34-year-old former basketballer, Erin Todd. Queanbeyan product Tarni Evans headlined the crop at pick nine, a dynamic forward/midfielder who is one of the most talented teenagers around the nation. She could slot straight into the Giants’ starting line-up in her debut season.

ONE TO WATCH IN 2021

A 2018 All Australian, Erin McKinnon is the Giants’ player to watch this season. She dipped a touch below the lofty standards she had previously set last year, but at just 22-years-old, the 189cm ruck has plenty of scope to come on quickly and dominate for years to come. McKinnon is a monster in the hitouts, averaging over 22 per game across her first three seasons and directing plenty to the advantage of her midfielders. With the potential to move forward and impact more with contested marking, McKinnon could take hold for the Giants this year.

WHY THEY CAN WIN IT

The Giants have long been lauded for their consistency and the stability of their list overall, which proved a large factor in them exceeding expectations in 2020. With Alicia Eva at the helm of an unchanged leadership group, Alyce Parker quickly becoming a top five player in the competition and a solid spine forming, there is no reason why the Giants cannot continue to perform at a high level.

QUESTION MARK

With a finals spot earned last year, the Giants have been assigned a relatively tough fixture and after a series of challenges over the last six to 12 months, starting well will be the priority. However, Fremantle and Melbourne make for two formidable opponents among the opening fortnight of action, and will help answer the question of whether GWS can truly hang with the top sides.

FINAL WORD

The Giants have a strong core of experienced leaders who should again help them account for the bottom sides, but breaking through to beat those in premiership contention lingers as the next big step for this team. Expect another run to the finals, with the target of a postseason win in both GWS’ sights and the realm of possibility.

Image Credit: Jason McCawley/Getty Images via AFL Photos

2020 AFL Draft recap: GWS GIANTS

HAVING lost some key personnel at the trade table this year, Greater Western Sydney (GWS) held a strong hand coming into this year’s draft with four first rounders and five picks within the top 30. While their final haul changed via live trading, the Giants came away with five terrific talents at the National Draft and added another fresh face among their three-pronged rookie intake. After a disappointing 10th place finish in 2020, GWS will hope to hit back with force next year and should be well stocked for sustained success with more draft hauls like this one, adding to an already stacked list.

GWS GIANTS

National Draft:
#12 Tanner Bruhn (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#15 Conor Stone (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Metro)
#18 Ryan Angwin (Gippsland Power/Vic Country)
#58 Cameron Fleeton (Geelong Falcons/Vic Country)
#59 Jacob Wehr (Woodville-West Torrens/South Australia)

Rookies:
Sam Reid (Re-listed), Zach Sproule (Re-listed), Will Shaw (NSW/ACT zone, Cat B)

A hat-trick of picks within the top 20 meant GWS had some trading flex, but the strategy was to reassess after those initial selections should a trade agreement not be reached. The latter ended up being the case, with top 10 slider Tanner Bruhn the Giants’ first selection at 12. Potentially the best pure midfielder in the draft behind Will Phillips, the 183cm Geelong Falcons graduate is relentless on the inside and driven to improve. While he adds to the raft of GWS midfield options, the Giants rate his versatility and can see him impacting with his mix of class and intent either down back or up forward.

The Giants then moved to bolster their outside running stocks with picks 15 and 18, making somewhat prospective selections in Conor Stone and Ryan Angwin respectively. Stone doubles as a medium forward but has the aerobic capacity to play further afield, as proven during his time with APS side St Kevin’s. He booted five goals on his NAB League debut for Oakleigh before contributing to its premiership triumph. Angwin has already drawn comparisons to fellow Foster native Xavier Duursma, with his slender frame juxtaposed by fearless attack on the ball. He is another strong runner who looks set to develop in outside roles, but has the potential to fill out and impact either up forward or on the inside.

A trade with Collingwood saw GWS bolster its 2021 hand with another first-rounder, but it came at a cost with the Giants’ remaining top 30 picks going the other way. That left picks 58 and 59 to manufacture something with and a pair of defenders rounded out a solid haul. Cameron Fleeton was called out first, a versatile type who can play tall, small, offensive, or defensive roles down back and was set to co-captain the Geelong Falcons this season. Jacob Wehr is a mature-ager who starred in Woodville-West Torrens’ premiership success in 2020, showcasing enormous class and poise off half-back. His decision making by foot is a real asset which appealed to many clubs.

Sam Reid and Zach Sproule were given rookie lifelines as re-listed players, with NSW/ACT zone selection Will Shaw a surprise Category B listing by the Giants. The classy outside runner was part of the GWS Academy before running out for the Murray Bushrangers and Bendigo Pioneers, but was overlooked in his top-age year. Having swept over vision of him, the Giants were keen to get Shaw on board as a long-term depth option.

Featured Image: Tanner Bruhn was GWS’ first pick in the 2020 National AFL Draft | Credit: Getty Images