We all know that season 2020 presented some unprecedented challenges for every player and staff member at every club. Winning on the field was only part of the battle, and some handled the hub life better than others.
The Giants belong firmly in the camp of “the others”.
After a bittersweet 2019 campaign where they made it all the way to the last game only to be thrashed by a rampant Richmond, the Giants initially looked to have recovered reasonably well in 2021, getting to the bye with a 6-4 record. However, a demoralising 12 point loss to the eventual wooden spooners in Round 16 derailed their season and they became only the seventh team in AFL history to miss the finals after finishing runners-up the previous season.
The playing list has seen a lot of movement as a result of all this, with some big pieces lost but some interesting prospects arriving. There are some potential Supercoach gems here!
Lock and Load: In full flight, there are very few that can keep up with Lachie Whitfield ($561 600) in the endurance stakes. Blessed with almost unparalleled running power and precision delivery off either foot, the only weak point in Lachie’s game is his lean physique and the potential for impact injuries that come with it. The flipside is the textbook wingman is available as a defender this year due to his ability to shake off his opponent and get uncontested ball in defence. He is the Giants’ preferred option on the rebound and is an easy choice for a spot among your defensive starters.
Feeling Lucky: 2020 was the year that the perennially underrated Nick Haynes ($528 400) finally established himself as one of the premier intercept defenders in the league. Haynes averaged a tick under 110 pre-bye last season, averaging 8.1 marks per game with many of the intercept efforts that are so well rewarded in Supercoach. An unfortunate injury to key defender and club captain Phil Davis forced Haynes to be more accountable in the back half of the season, and his scoring suffered accordingly – he managed only 82 ppg in the seven post-bye games. The good news is that Davis will return to full training in early February, and Haynes’ poor finish to 2020 means he may be slightly under-priced to start the season. Strong POD value here!
Money Maker: With Aidan Corr shipped off to the Kangaroos and Zac Williams traded to Carlton, the ‘vacancy’ sign has been posted in the Giants’ backline. There are opportunities here for players such as mature-age draftee Jacob Wehr ($117 300) and versatile third-year defender Connor Idun ($214,900). Wehr has put together an impressive run of games in the SANFL in the past couple of seasons, capped by a premiership with Woodville-West Torrens last season. Sound positional play and a trusty left boot are the hallmarks of his game and he should be watchlisted. Idun has been a slow burn since arriving in the Giants system, but has impressed in pre-season training and may be vying with the likes of Adam Kennedy and Isaac Cumming for the key defensive post left open by Corr.
Lock and Load: The usual compliments and caveats come with discussion of Josh Kelly ($615 600), a supreme talent and one of the smoothest movers in the league. Unfortunately Kelly has developed a frustrating reputation for niggling injuries that have seen him miss 18 games in the past three seasons alone. But when he’s on the field, he’s a captaincy choice every week, averaging at least 114 in each of his past four seasons. News that he recently broke the club record in the 2km time trial is encouraging. Is this the year he finally puts it all together and wins the Brownlow that so many good judges thought was inevitable?
Feeling Lucky: To be blunt, Stephen Coniglio ($528 900) had a filthy year in 2020…but in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. The club captain found himself dropped in Round 17 after a run of ordinary form, but has retained the captaincy in 2021 and by all accounts worked hard throughout the off-season to regain his spark. Anyone with a Supercoach double ton to their name deserves respect!
As always, there’s plenty to look at when it comes to the Giants midfield, with hard nut Tim Taranto ($453 700), the forever under-rated Callan Ward ($409 900) and second year phenom Tom Green ($351 400) all looking to be value picks capable of scoring above the level suggested by their respective price tags. But can any of them play well enough to justify their place in your team for the entirety of the season?
Money Maker: He may have won the unofficial award for “Most Reluctant Draftee”, but don’t count out Tanner Bruhn ($157 800) this year. The Giants have an infamous record for ignoring their rookies – Jackson Hately says hi! – but Bruhn brings a competitiveness, backed by fine skills, that should fit right into the Giants’ style of play.
Feeling Lucky: Here is the big question in the ruck stocks this year: do you splash out on everybody’s favourite über premiums, or do you roll the dice and back Braydon Preuss ($303 000) to make you some cash while providing serviceable scoring? The hulking Queenslander has shown glimpses of his potential in limited opportunities at his previous clubs, where he has mystifyingly elected to play behind the likes of established stars such as Todd Goldstein and Max Gawn. However, Preuss now finds himself at the Giants as the undisputed number 1 ruck, with only the ageing Shane Mumford as a viable backup option. What can Braydon do with the extra minutes, and is it enough to make him a viable pick at R2 this year? Questions!
Feeling Lucky: After winning the Rising Star in 2015, it’s been a long and strange journey for Jesse Hogan ($310 800). The past five seasons have seen the spearhead face personal challenges and injury woes, criss-crossing the nation in search of a place to call home. He now finds himself at the Giants, taking the spot of the departed Jeremy Cameron, and saddled with the expectations that come with filling those boots. And filling his boots is exactly what GWS fans will be hoping for from Hogan. Anyone who can kick 44 goals in a season as a rookie must be considered, but a solid pre-season is a definite pre-requisite for consideration. As a completely neutral observer, I have to say it would be great to see Jesse happy and playing great footy again!
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