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Be patient with Giants forwards: Brereton

James Dampney  February 6, 2013 1:15 PM

AFL 2012 Rd 13 - Melbourne v GWS Giants

Giants forward Jonathon Patton celebrates a goal last season

HAWTHORN great Dermott Brereton is excited about the improvement of Greater Western Sydney's Jonathon Patton and Jeremy Cameron, but is preaching caution with the young key forwards.

Brereton holds the position of specialist forwards coach with the Giants and has been working closely with Patton and Cameron and the rest of the GWS forward line.

Cameron excelled in his first season in the AFL, kicking a club-best 29 goals in 16 appearances, while injury restricted former No.1 NAB AFL Draft pick Patton to just seven games.

Brereton is pleased with what he has seen from both in their second AFL pre-seasons.

"Yes, in the work load and effort and application to it," he said. "I'm really, really happy with the progress.

"I would just ask people who love their footy and understand it to say have a look at Tom Hawkins and the like and how long it took him.

"If we can get there quicker than Tommy got there and half as good, we'll be really, really happy.

"But they are coming along beautifully."

Much-hyped ahead of his debut as a teenager with Geelong back in 2007, Hawkins struggled for form and fitness before ultimately starring in the 2011 Grand Final and earning All Australian honours last season.

Cameron and Patton are both 19 years old and Brereton believes it will be some time until it is known just how good they will be.

"History shows that there are very, very few key forwards that in their first two years come in and turn the world upside down," Brereton said.

"The best one I've seen is Wayne Carey. He showed great signs, but it probably took until his third or fourth year before we went 'Whoa'.

"Jason Dunstall, who kicked 100 goals six or seven times in his career, was in the wilderness until year four.

"It takes a while to come on for key forwards.

"These two lads are showing wonderful, wonderful progress, so I say be patient and what you see this year, rub your hands together and say 'How good is it going to be'."

Brereton was also asked about Israel Folau, the former Giant who left the club at the end of last season to switch to rugby union with the NSW Waratahs.

Brereton had worked with Folau as he attempted to forge an AFL career and always felt he could have made it with GWS.

But the gifted athlete's struggles to learn the fine art of key forward play in Australian football underlined to Brereton just how difficult it is.
"I would've loved to work with Israel for another two or three years, but he made a choice to go to another code," he said.

"The upside for Israel was enormous, but that's his choice.

"He was two-to-three years from being a viably good, good player in this comp.

"It takes a while. It's a most difficult area."

James Dampney is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter: @AFL_JD