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Giant season

Callan Ward showed off his leadership credentials in the Giants's inaugural season

1. Young talent time? You better believe it
IT WAS widely acknowledged that the Giants picked up some prodigious talent courtesy of generous list and NAB AFL Draft concessions. But they still exceeded expectations. Jeremy Cameron burst out of the blocks, Toby Greene starred and Adam Treloar, Steve Coniglio, Dylan Shiel, Tom Bugg, Will Hoskin-Elliott, Devon Smith et al were as good, if not better, than advertised. All that and No.1 pick Jon Patton barely got started.

2. Key defenders, come on down
As talented as they are, the Giants are far from overstocked in all areas. Key defensive posts are the main area of concern. Phil Davis played every game and impressed under extreme duress, helped by Chad Cornes, while Tim Mohr showed some good signs. Josh Bruce and Jack Hombsch also demonstrated potential. But some experienced, big-bodied help is desperately required down back.

3. Get your scouts to Dartmoor
Jeremy Cameron was recognised as a talent leading into the season. But there were still plenty of unknowns over a teenage key forward who spent as much time fishing and working on his golf game as playing footy growing up in the tiny Victorian town of Dartmoor. By his second game, a four-goal return against North Melbourne, the secret was out. He would finish with 29 goals from 16 matches and helped put Dartmoor on the map.

4. If you build it, they won't automatically come
In round nine against Essendon, GWS unveiled its sparkling new venue, Skoda Stadium. It is a 25,000-seat stadium complete with corporate suites, great views from every vantage point and a BBQ deck that has impressed all. But it doesn't guarantee crowds, and Sydney still loves a winner. The Giants drew 11,887 against the Bombers before averaging just 8000 for the season. It might be some yet time before the full house sign goes up.

5. I'll have what Sheedy's having
When round one kicks off next year, Kevin Sheedy will be 65 years old. And he will also be getting stuck into his 29th season as an AFL senior coach. Despite a four-year gap since finishing up with Essendon in 2007, Sheedy attacked this season with gusto and was his usual charismatic, cryptic, razor-sharp self. And he seems to have plenty left in the tank.

6. Izzy going to make it?
With his high profile as a rugby league international and his multi-million dollar contract, Israel Folau was under the microscope from day one. It didn't always sit comfortably with the shy code-swapper and there were more lows than highs in season one. But he appears keen to stick with the task and will be hoping for a Karmichael Hunt-like sophomore season.

7. It takes all types to build a Giant
Over the course of the year, some rather different personalities emerged in western Sydney. From Steve Coniglio's penchant for fashion and hair product to Jeremy Cameron's laidback, country demeanour and Toby Greene's love of a good headband, there was a marked cross-section of types. But it all congregated at Breakfast Point and plenty of fun, humour and close friendships emerged.

8. Winners and losers in popularity contest
Mark Williams was a hugely popular senior assistant coach who worked closely with the eager young players. His decision to leave for Richmond was a palpable blow. On the flip side, Setanta O'hAilpin - another very popular Giant - was one of the hard luck stories of the year, lasting barely a half in his first game before rupturing his knee. But Sheedy has indicated he would like to give the Irishman another year, which would be welcomed enthusiastically by his teammates.

9. Shrinking Giants? Not on your life
The Giants impressed all with their physical, feisty approach over the first half of the season, capped by a breakthrough win over Gold Coast. But between rounds 14 and 18, GWS lost by a record 590 points, an average of 118 per game, and there were concerns about the damage it would do to the young side. The Giants eased any fears of psychological fallout, however, ending the streak with a six-goal win over Port Adelaide.

10. Question Gubby and SOS at your peril
Graeme 'Gubby' Allan and Steve Silvagni, a.k.a. SOS, largely sat in the background during the club's inaugural season, but they are the men most responsible for compiling the GWS list. Plenty scratched their heads over the recruitment of previously retired quartet Luke Power, Dean Brogan, Chad Cornes and James McDonald. But all four proved a success both as players and assistant coaches. Allan and Silvagni appear well on top of their game and will be pulling the strings again in the off-season.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs