We all expected the Suns to jump in to the top 8 in 2015, but we were watching the wrong expansion club. On the back of 7 wins in the first 10 rounds, it was the Giants who were ensconced in the top 8 and vying for a top 4 spot. All three losses were on the road to quality teams in Sydney, West Coast and the Bulldogs while at home the Giants knocked off both the Hawks and the Crows for the first time.
Leon Cameron had the Giants playing an entertaining, attacking style of football that relied on run and spread from the backline and strings of handballs through the middle of the ground. For half a year fans jumped on the bandwagon as the Giants followed a game plan that had similarities to the Hawks. The Giants looked to have arrived
Then the bandwagon’s wheels fell off in the round 11 loss to the Pies. Phil Davis was subbed at half time with an ankle injury, Patful copped broken ribs after a knee from teammate Buntine and Coniglio and Mummy were injured late in the game. Those injuries and others in subsequent weeks lead to 3 straight losses and the Giants never really got rolling again with only 4 more wins for the season to finish level with card on 11 wins and 11 losses.
They missed the finals but it was a successful year for Western Sydney.
B: Joel Patfull, Aidan Corr, Phil Davis
HB: Ryan Griffen, Nick Haynes, Heath Shaw
C: Tom Scully, Callan Ward, Lachie Whitfield
HF: Steve Johnson, Jeremy Cameron, Devon Smith
F: Cam McCarthy, Jonathon Patton, Toby Greene
Foll: Shane Mumford, Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio
I/C, Adam Tomlinson, Jacob Hopper, Zac Williams, Rhys Palmer
Fringe: Tim Mohr, Matt Buntine, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Jarrod Pickett, Jake Barrett, Josh Kelly, Jack Steele, Dawson Simpson
Due to the lack of a midfield star, the Giants don’t receive the plaudits of many other teams but they have an amazing balanced squad with depth in every line.
The backline has tall defenders Davis, Patfull, Haynes and Corr with depth players Marchbank, Tomlinson and Mohr (when he returns from his knee injury) and running defenders Heath Shaw, Williams and Griffen since he was moved back in late 2015.
The forward line has the talented Jeremy Cameron, soon-to-be-Docker McCarthy and Patton with depth players Will Hoskin-Elliott and Stewart as tall forwards and small forwards Devon Smith, Greene, Palmer and the recently arrived Stevie J with depth players Pickett, Matthew Kennedy and Ahern.
Even with the loss of Treloar and with Griffen playing back and Toby Greene and Devon Smith forward, the midfield is still filled with guns and role players in Ward, Coniglio, Shiel, Whitfield and Scully and soon to be guns Kelly, Hopper and Kennedy.
The ruck is a bit shaky with only the injury prone Mummy in the elite category so it is no surprise that he is recognized as the barometer for the Giants’ team. Keeping him fit is a priority!
With a squad that oozes talent and class, the time is right for the Giants to break through for their first finals appearance.
Mr Heath Shaw – D – $607,800
2015 Av. 112.6 from 22 games.
Past 5: 92, 97, 101, 101, 90
2015: Many Supercoaches have a “No d-head” rule when creating their teams and so they avoided Heath Shaw to start 2015. Much to their dismay, he was the most consistent Supercoach defender of the year with scores of 85, 104, 109, 69, 122, 89, 118, 91, 144, 94, 127, 104, 110, 119, 126, 127, 145, 122, 96, 164, 104 and 97 and he was justly rewarded with the first All-Australian selection of his career. We should all apologize to him for disrespecting him prior to last season!
PROs: He knows how to find he ball, averaging 23 possessions per game in 2015. The Giants are improving and they shouldn’t fatigue as much as last year.
CONs: He’s maximum priced so he’ll cost you.
Verdict: If you can afford him he won’t let you down (probably).
Mid-price Madness $200K – $400K
Zac Williams – D – $375,500
2015 Av. 69.6 from 12 games.
Past: 65, 59
Vests: 3 Green, on 3QT of Rd 6 (Haw), late Q3, Rd 7 (Carl) and Q4, Rd 8 (Ade).
2015: Williams had a full preseason but he only managed 3 AFL games in the first half of the season and he copped the green vest in all three games (round 6-8). He didn’t break back into the team until he replaced the injured Scully in round 12 against North Melbourne and was far from the worst player for his team. From there he played every game (barring rounds 18 and 19 which he missed with a hamstring injury) and showed pretty good form across half back with the odd switch up forward.
PROs: He’s under-priced as he actually averaged 88 when his vested games are deducted and he’s entering his fourth year.
CONs: There’s a lot of competition for spots so is he definitely in the best 22? He’s awkwardly priced.
Verdict: If he can average 85-90, he’s a bargain. Watch his preseason closely.
Dylan Shiel – M – $554,600
2015 Av. 102.8 from 14 games.
Past: 94, 76, 75
Vest: 1 Red, subbed in Q2 in round 15 (St Kilda)
2015: Shiel improved his Supercoach average again on the back of increasing his average disposal from 23 to 26 per game. Only injuries in round 3 and round 15 (with red vest) prevented this average from being closer to 110 for the year. A knee injury in round 15 unfortunately ended his break-out year.
PROs: Shiel can go very large with 3 scores over 130 in the first 4 weeks of the year and he is entering his fifth year so expect another increase.
CONs: Shiel struggles with close taggers (48 when tagged by Jacobs) and with the departure of Treloar he will receive more attention.
Verdict: He’s likely to improve again but there’s better value in the midfield this year.
Callan Ward – M – 573,900
2015 Av. 106.4 from 22 games
Past 5: 112, 97, 107, 89, 63
2015: Ward was his usual reliable self although he dropped below 100 on 9 occasions in 2015 compared to 5 times in 2014. Still he played all 22 games and only dropped below 80 once and pumped out a personal best score of 175 SC points in round 10 against Brisbane, so it’s hard to fault him.
PROs: He’s durable and he has proven he can score consistently and average over 110.
CONs: He only offers some value and he’s unlikely to be a top 8 mid.
Verdict: Another great player but there’s better out there.
Stephen Coniglio – M – $494,600
2015 Av. 91.7 from 18 games
Past: 84, 74, 76,
Vest: 1 Green, on in Q4 of round 1 against St Kilda.
2015: Coniglio was used as a tagger in the preseason and green vested in round 1, but when he played a full game in round 2 he pumped out 129 against Melbourne. After that he only dropped below 20 possessions twice for the rest of the year and only dropped below 80 supercoach points 4 times for the year. He was used in tagging roles consistently across the season but scored well even when tagging.
PROs: Entering his fifth year, he is a possible replacement for Treloar. He has a decent ceiling with 3 out of his 7 tonnes going over 120 SC points.
CONs: Even though he can find the ball when tagging, you still don’t want your mids tagging.
Verdict: If he is released from tagging and allowed to play an attacking midfield role he could go close to elite. Watch his role in the preseason. He’s one of the Giants’ most well-rounded midfielders so my gut feel is that he’ll replace Treloar in the middle.
Ryan Griffen – M – $489,500
2015 Av. 90.7 from 21 games.
Past 5: 99, 116, 106, 108, 94
Vests: 2 R, both subbed early in Q3
2015: Griffen started his first year at the Giants with a rollercoaster ride of scores, 70, 114, 73, 113, 69, 107, 53, 120, 59. He spent a lot of time playing outside the packs and he often didn’t run hard to get free of taggers or find space. He has since indicated that he was not fit enough and played 5kg too heavy, so perhaps that explains his lack of run. From mid-year, he started playing more off half-back and his scores improved mildly, but he never threatened to pump out monster scores like he did for the Doggies in 2013.
PROs: If he plays as a ball-winning midfield he has an incredibly high ceiling (high score of 189 in 2014) and like Greene, Coniglio, Whitfield and Kelly, he may take Treloar’s midfield spot.
CONs: When he’s tagged, he doesn’t work hard to break the tag and he can manage some horrible scores.
Verdict: If he returns to a true midfield role, he may be worth looking at but he’s not for me. He’s just too unreliable.
Mid-price Madness $200K – $450K
Lachie Whitfield – M – $420,400
2015 Av. 77.9 from 21 games.
Past 79, 73
Vest: 1 Red, subbed 3QT in Rd 4 (GC)
2015: After an interrupted 2014 due to a shoulder injury, Whitfield played 21 games in 2015. He started the season with a bang, averaging 29 touches in the first 3 weeks playing across wing and half-forward but his form dropped off as the season went on. Still in only his third year he averaged 22 possessions per game even if his usually excellent disposal efficiency let him down at times.
PROs: A skilful number 1 draft pick entering his fourth year, he’s primed to break-out.
CONs: He plays an outside role so he has a low contested disposal rate that lowers his SC scores.
Verdict: I’m a big fan. He’ll definitely improve but there’s less risky midfield options out there.
Jake Barrett – M – $128,800
2015 Av. 25 from 1 game
Vests: Green – on in the second half in round 23 against Melbourne
2015: Barrett was simply too good for the NEAFL (who isn’t?), averaging over 30 possessions per game and tackling like a madman, but he still struggled to break into the GWS midfield. When he finally received a call up, he was green vested.
PROs: He’s a gun entering his third season who knows how to find the ball and tackle.
CONs: Even with his brilliant NEAFL form he couldn’t earn a game in 2015. Will he be in the best 22 this year?
Verdict: He is more than ready to go, so pick him if he’s named in round 1.
Jacob Hopper – M – $193,800
2015 Draftee #7 (academy selection)
Will he play?
GWS don’t lack for midfielders but this guy is a jet who has clearance and contested ball number similar to players such as Fyfe and Dangerfield. Like them he also kicks goals. He is very likely to play some games this year and considering he averaged over 130 SC points per game in all junior comps, he’ll score decently for a first year player.
Matthew Kennedy – M – $166,800
2015 Draftee #13 (academy selection).
Kennedy is a goal kicking midfielder who is a strong overhead mark. He didn’t play a lot of football due to a knee injury in 2015 yet he was good enough to still receive an early nomination in the draft. Due to his lack of games in 2015, it will be a surprise if he features early in 2016.
Shane Mumford – R – $570,500
2015 Av. 105.7 from 11 games.
Past 5: 113, 92, 91, 113, 93
2015: The big Mummy was his usual damaging self for 11 rounds with 9 scores over 100 and only 2 scores under 70 (59 and 66) before he did his usual injury (ankle) and never returned.
PROs: He only averages 12 possessions per game but most of them are contested and his tackle count (6 per game) more than makes up for the lack so his ceiling is pretty high.
CONs: Injury. Injury. Injury. Injury.
Verdict: He could easily average 120-130 if he stays fit. That’s a big “if”. Pick him IF you dare!
PS: Did I mention he’s injury prone?
Devon Smith – F – $480,000
2015 Av. 89 from 20 games.
Past: 90, 70, 63
2015: Smith spent more time across half-forward in 2015 so his disposal rate dropped from 22 to 19 per match and despite loving a shot for goal, he didn’t kick any more goals than in 2-14, dropping from 26 goals to 17 goals for the season.
PROs: He missed two games late with a knee injury but he’s otherwise proven to be durable, playing more than 20 games in all four seasons he’s been in the AFL. He has a massive ceiling, scoring 170 in round 16 against the Gold Coast.
CONs: There doesn’t seem to be room for more midfielders so he will struggle to find more of the ball in the forward line.
Verdict: Entering his fifth year he’s unlikely to drop his average so consider as a POD.
Toby Greene – F/M – $446,900
2015 Av. 83 from 22 games.
Past: 103, 73, 95
Vests: 1 G, round 22 (Carlton), 1 R, off Q3, round 10 (Carlton)
2015: Greene’s season makes for interesting reading. The perception was that his forward role effected his scores but he actually started the season in the midfield during which time he scored: 54, 86, 66, 84 and 78, with his low disposal efficiency dropping his scores, not his role. When he moved to a half forward role around round 6 or 7, he still managed to win plenty of the ball and across the whole season he averaged 23 possessions.
PROs: He’s proven that he can score and win plenty of the ball. He just needs to improve his disposal efficiency and he’ll score well with only 23 touches!
CONs: If he can’t improve his disposal, he will continue to be overlooked for a midfield spot. As a forward he did average 5 possessions and 20 SC points less than as a midfielder in 2014.
Verdict: He’s undervalued, especially if he returns to the midfield. Watch his preseason for his role. If he’s forward again, I’d avoid him unless he has stopped butchering the ball.
Stevie Johnson – F – $457,000
2015 Av. 84.7 from 20 games.
Past: 107, 116, 97, 107, 90
Vest: 1 Green, on Q3 of Rd 4 (NM).
2015: Stevie J missed most of the preseason with a foot injury and struggled with fitness early in the year although he still managed 3 scores over 100 in the first 7 rounds. For most of the year he was used as a forward so his average disposals dropped to 21 per game, the least since 2010, but he kicked 30 goals for the year, his most since 2011. Surprisingly he only missed 1 game with suspension and despite the limited preseason he played 20 games!
PROs: He can go large and he averaged 95 over his last 5 weeks of the season. In an improving Giants squad, he may find a new lease of life as a pure forward.
CONs: He won’t manage the huge disposal counts of his midfield days and he may be managed through the season. If he plays too well, the taggers will shut him down, then he’ll hit them and get suspended!
Verdict: He’s a huge risk but he could find a new lease of life at the Giants. I don’t have the guts to take that risk!
Paul Ahern – M/F – $123,900
2015: The number 7 draft pick from the 2014 nation draft, Ahern spent the entire 2015 season developing in the NEAFL. He played some good games but he was not consistent enough to break into the senior side.
PROs: He’s a first round draft pick that’s been in the system for a year and is still rookie priced.
CONs: There are a lot of good midfielders waiting for a game at GWS so even with the loss of Treloar he’ll struggle to get a game. He doesn’t really like to tackle (less than 2 per game) and Pickett looks likely to debut first.
Verdict: Unless he excels in the preseason, he won’t play early.
Jarrod Pickett – M – $123,900
2015: In his first year at the club, the 2014 number 4 draft pick was initially a little slow to meet the training standard required to play AFL, however he improved his attitude and effort as the year progressed. The club was happy with his progress and his performance as a small forward in the NEAFL so by the end of 2015 he was close to making his AFL debut, being named senior emergency in round 18.
PROs: He’s rookie priced and a high draft pick entering his second year. He was a damaging forward in NEAFL, kicking multiple goals in 6 of his last 7 games (16 total in that time).
CONs: He’s not a big ball winner managing a high of 20 touches once in 2015 and he will need a good preseason to break into the side.
Verdict: He’ll be a handy bench warmer if named. Monitor his preseason.
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