By NEAFL Media
Can the GIANTS keep a healthy list together and return to the finals stage in 2019? We take a look at what’s in store for the men from western Sydney.
It was a season of two halves for the GIANTS as they narrowly missed out on a finals berth with a strong run home. The GIANTS season began in exciting fashion enough with a thrilling four-point win over Sydney in Round 1, but a five-game losing streak brought them back to the bottom of the pack by mid-season. The GIANTS moved as high as fifth on the ladder with five consecutive wins from Rounds 8-13 in a big turnaround. However, with only two more victories and a draw from their last seven games, the GIANTS slipped out of finals contention. In a highlight from their 2018 campaign, young gun Aiden Bonar made the NEAFL Team of the Year after impressing on several occasions.
WHATS’S NEW IN 2019?
The GIANTS lost Rory Lobb, Tom Scully, Will Setterfield, Dylan Shiel, Tim Mohr, Lachlan Tiziani, and Ryan Griffen through the off-season and picked up Jye Caldwell (Bendigo Pioneers), Jackson Hately (Central District), Xavier O’Halloran (Western Jets), Ian Hill (Perth), Kieren Briggs (GWS Academy) and Connor Idun (Geelong Falcons) from the draft. Adam Schneider will continue to lead the side in the NEAFL and keep the pressure on spots in the AFL lineup each week to help steer the club to a chance at an AFL premiership.
The GIANTS will have a great chance to see how they measure up in the first month of the season when they take on their fellow AFL clubs in the opening rounds.
The 2019 season kicks off with a blockbuster clash with Sydney in a curtain raiser at Spotless Stadium, followed by a trip to Burpengary to face last year’s Elimination Finalsists Brisbane. The GIANTS return home to battle Gold Coast in Round 3 at Blacktown, and then head over to the Swans’ home turf to round out an exciting opening month.
2019 WILL BE A HIT IF…
From a NEAFL perspective, it is crucial for the GIANTS to perform well at the start of the season and get wins in the bag early whilst their list is in healthy shape. Otherwise, should injury concerns begin to mount, they will have to rely on a depleted team to make a late run for the finals, which became their undoing last year. From a holistic club point of view, 2019 will be a success if the GIANTS maintain depth at both levels in order to have a serious tilt at an AFL flag, following on from the GIANTS NEAFL triumph in 2016 – the first piece of silverware for the club.
2019 WILL BE A MISS IF…
No side copped a worse injury run – in either AFL or NEAFL – than the GIANTS last year. Their greatest fear will be the events of 2018 repeating themselves and if injuries continue to plague them, their depth will be seriously tested at NEAFL level. While this opens the door for players to push their case in the AFL, it means the GIANTS will be relying on their young academy and first-year talent to get the job done in the NEAFL.
The GIANTS will have plenty of young talent to keep an eye on during this year’s NEAFL season. Aiden Bonar’s debut season last year was electrifying at times – averaging 21 disposals 6.3 tackles and 6.5 clearances over 14 games – and was duly rewarded with an AFL debut. Isaac Cumming, Zach Sproule, Nick Shipley and Jake Stein also took strides in their development last year and will look to take things further in 2019.
Ruckman Kieren Briggs looks a star of the future after winning the MVP Award for the Allies, plus the GIANTS Academy Player of the Year in 2018 before officially joining the GIANTS via the draft. Small forward James Peatling – a NEAFL Rising Star nominee last year – and the likes of Northern Jets product Jeromy Lucas and Wagga’s Shaun Driscoll are among the top U19 academy squad members who will feature regularly. Liam Delahunty – who won the inaugural Westfund Academy Player Scholarship last year – is also set for a big season as he chases his AFL dream.
TO KICK THINGS OFF…
Round 1 – April 6
GIANTS v Sydney at Spotless Stadium, 12.55pm
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