Shan Moylan for Footy Inc.
If the Giants franchise had been introduced 10 years earlier, what would that team have looked like?
Scary Season 1: The Giant Awakes premiered in 2016. It was a terrible flop at the box office with some screenings only attended by circa 8,000 viewers. However, despite the disappointment at the gate there is no denying the quality of the work. And so, unlike most sequels that typically do not live up to the original, this 2017 sequel might be the beginning of an epic series.
It appears certain that the preliminary finalists from 2016 (one kick away from being grand finalists), with such a promising young group of players, are destined to be a heavyweight of the competition for the next several years. But just how dominant might they be?
So, with the Giants sitting in top spot on the AFL ladder at the mid-point of the 2017 season with a win/loss record of 10-3, it seemed like a good time to ask the question and prepare ourselves for just how good this young GWS team might be.
The Experiment – 10 year rewind
For the purposes of gauging just how good this team might be, we have created a hypothetical GWS team based on the expansion club entering the league 10 years earlier than they did. For example, a GWS Giants entering the AFL in 2002 instead of 2012 would have Luke Hodge (pick 1 from the 2001 draft) rather than Jonathon Patton (pick 1 from the 2011 draft). Patton, who has just turned 24-years-old, has shown great promise as a key forward despite some serious injuries (97 goals from 66 games) but the best is yet to come. Hodge on the other hand is 33-years-old and is at the tail-end of a stellar career (close to 300 games, 4 premierships, 2 Norm Smith medals and 3 All-Australian guernseys). Luke Ball (pick 2 from the 2001 draft – All-Australian and premiership player) is the equivalent of 23-year-old Stephen Coniglio (pick 2 from the 2011 draft – 2012 Rising Star nominee and 2016 All-Australian nominee) and so on. The point is, Patton, Coniglio and the other promising youngsters at GWS have only just begun and are three or four years away from their prime while, in the case of Hodge, Ball and others in our hypothetical team below, we can look at their full body of work across their careers and be better placed to judge how good they have been.
Be warned, for fans of the other 17 teams in the competition, this is quite scary. Here’s what a 2007 Giants team might have looked like:
Refer to “The Squad” section below for how the 2017 GWS squad was translated back 10 years into this 2007 hypothetical team.
- 9 All-Australians for a total of 14 All-Australian guernseys (multiple AA guernseys: Luke Hodge , Brendon Goddard , Travis Boak , Jimmy Bartel )
- 6 premiership winning players with 13 premiership medals in total (Luke Hodge 4, Jimmy Bartel 3, David Hale 3 and one each to Luke Ball, Nick Smith and Shannon Grant)
- 4 Norm Smith medals (Luke Hodge 2 and one each to Jimmy Bartel and Shannon Grant)
- 15 players with 200+ games (including Nick Smith who will soon reach the milestone)
Here’s a comparison to other recent dynasties:
The hypothetical 2007 Giants would have been a super team. The line-up is full of champion players across all lines and the All-Australian numbers are astounding (not to mention the premiership players and Norm Smith medallists). Nine All-Australians puts them in the conversation with dynasties such as the 2001-2003 Lions, the 2007-2011 Cats and the 2013-2015 Hawks.
The current day Giants already have six All-Australians (albeit four are senior players recruited from other clubs – Brett Deledio, Steve Johnson, Heath Shaw and Ryan Griffen) and there is a long list of young Giants who may one day be given the honour. Josh Kelly, Dylan Shiel and Tom Scully are all in contention for their first AA guernsey this season while Toby Green and Jeremy Cameron are making strong claims for selection for the second time.
The 2017 Giants best line-up looks something like this:
B: Heath Shaw, Phil Davis, Aidan Corr
HB: Brett Deledio, Adam Tomlinson, Zac Williams
C: Josh Kelly, Callan Ward, Tom Scully
HF: Toby Greene, Jeremy Cameron, Tim Taranto
F: Steve Johnson, Jonathon Patton, Devon Smith
R: Shane Mumford, Dylan Shiel, Stephen Coniglio
I/C from: Rory Lobb, Nathan Wilson, Lachie Whitfield, Nick Haynes, Jacob Hopper, Ryan Griffen
There is enough talent in this current day Giants team to say that they are on par with the hypothetical 2007 Giants team we put together. And the numbers suggest that the hypothetical 2007 Giants team match up against some of the great dynasties of recent decades.
Based on the success of those recent dynasties it seems fair to pencil the GWS Giants in for at least three premierships over the next seven or eight years. Only time will tell.