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Giants likely to walk: Ward

We'll struggle to ward off poachers, Giants admit Giants' captain Callan Ward concedes keeping talent will be tough
AFL 2012 Rd 22 - St Kilda v GWS Giants
Callan Ward admits it will be hard to keep the highly-skilled Giants squad together
I don't want to say it's too hard to keep everyone, but I think it almost is
Callan Ward

EXCLUSIVE: ONE OF Greater Western Sydney's highest-paid stars has conceded it will be virtually impossible to keep the squad together long-term.  

Despite the Giants' raft of salary cap concessions, it's believed many of their young stars are already on the radar of other clubs, with the AFL's newest franchise facing a fight to keep them.

"I don't want to say it's too hard to keep everyone, but I think it almost is," co-captain Callan Ward told  

"I think the way the system works it's probably unrealistic to think that everyone can stay, but in the same sense we're hoping that everyone can commit to this footy club.

"It will be tough keeping all the players at this football club, because I think we've got plenty of talent here, but it's all part of the challenge and hopefully we can keep as many as we can."

The club's concessions include extra room in the salary cap of up to $1 million dollars a year until its list decreases from 50 players to the standard 38.

The club also enjoys the same cost of living allowance afforded to the Sydney Swans.

But with 16 first-round draft picks on its list, GWS faces the prospect of having to re-sign them all within a couple of years of each other.
The Gold Coast has faced a similar problem, losing Josh Caddy, Josh Toy, Tom Hickey and Taylor Hine.

GWS faces a potential fight to retain 2011 No.1 draft pick Jonathon Patton, while there's been plenty of external interest in midfielder Dom Tyson. There's also been speculation about midfielder Will Hoskin-Elliott.

Several higher-profile players have already committed to longer term deals, including Patton's forward partner Jeremy Cameron, midfielder Stephen Coniglio and Tomas Bugg.

Rival clubs will also likely target any talented player who expresses the slightest whiff of homesickness.

Ward said keeping the squad together would be one of the new club's biggest challenges.

"[It is] extremely important obviously, [but] I think at this football club, the bond between the group is the best I've seen with any group," he said.

The ex-Bulldog predicted his team would improve in 2013, after recording just two wins in its debut season.

"The guys, with another year under their belt, especially the first-year players, playing that one year in the AFL system has given them confidence," he said.

Matt Thompson is a reporter for AFL Media. Follow him on Twitter @MattThompsonAFL
The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs