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Season review: Greater Western Sydney

Adam Curley  September 26, 2017 6:51 AM

Clean up your onfield behaviour, Giants We dissect the highs and lows of the GWS Giants' 2017 in The Wash-Up

In a nutshell

The Giants rebounded from a terrible season opener to win nine of the next 10 games, but won just one of the next six as key injuries took a toll. They recovered again, but a disappointing finals series will make it a long summer. 


Have your say: Give your season verdict on the Giants using the form at the bottom of this article.


What we said in the pre-season  

We tipped the Giants to make the season's biggest match but they fell one game short for the second year running. We nailed Josh Kelly as a surprise All Australian, but while teammate Dylan Shiel joined him alongside Sydney's Lance Franklin, the predicted NSW domination wasn't quite there. 

What worked 

The Giants were ranked first for clearances and stoppages, and second for centre clearances, so their midfield unit led by Callan Ward, Kelly and Shiel continued to be one of their great strengths. The GWS defence was also solid and ranked fifth in the AFL during the regular season.

What failed

Quarter-long lapses and some lazy work when the opposition had the footy cost them massively, especially late in the year. The Giants coughed up second spot on the ladder in round 23 against Geelong when they gave up six goals to one in the third term, and it cost them home-ground advantage in the finals. They did the same against Adelaide (five goals to none, second term), and Richmond (six goals to one, third term) in big finals, and it ended their season. 

Overall rating: B

Did well to overcome a shocking injury list but didn't take a step further than 2016. 

The coach

Leon Cameron faced plenty of challenges with player availability, but managed to steer his team to another top four finish. Has a fantastic relationship with his players and is an outstanding representative of the club. May have stuck with his tall forward line for too long, but has great faith in his players. 

Leon Cameron steered the Giants to another top-four finish. Picture: AFL Photos
leoncameron620.jpg

The leaders 

Ward and Phil Davis continued to enhance their standing as strong co-captains with consistent on-field performances, and backed it up with off-field leadership. Deputy Stephen Coniglio was also a constant driver of the group despite his injury worries, while Kelly and Shiel also stepped up their responsibility. 

MVP

Josh Kelly: Led the team for disposals (29.5), tackles (6.5) and inside 50s (five) per game and added 19 goals in a breakout season, making a smooth transition from winger to midfielder. 

Surprise packet

Harry Himmelberg: Had to work hard to win a spot in the senior side but impressed as a defensive forward during the last six games of the season, and finished with four goals in the losing preliminary final.

Get excited

Tim Taranto: A mid-season ankle injury came at a shocking time for the tough draftee, who was starting to have a real impact across half-forward. Showed a cool head in his two finals.

Disappointment

Ryan Griffen: The veteran wasn't seen at senior level after round three following two separate serious ankle injuries. Made a valiant attempt to get back for the finals, but was never a chance.

Best win

Round 10: GWS 14.14 (98) d West Coast 14.6 (90) at Domain Stadium
The Giants made history with their first ever win over the Eagles, and thanks to starring roles from Toby Greene, Callan Ward, Josh Kelly and Shane Mumford, the visitors secured a massive four points.

Low point

Long-term injuries for Stephen Coniglio (ankle, twice), Ryan Griffen (ankle, twice), Nick Haynes (hamstring), Jacob Hopper (back, ankle, finger), Brett Deledio (calf), and season-ending knee reconstructions for Matt Buntine and Adam Kennedy made life difficult for most of the year. Losing Jeremy Cameron (hamstring) and Shane Mumford (foot) during the finals didn't help.

The big questions

Has Nathan Wilson played his last game for the Giants?

The speedy defender is contracted next year but with a child on the way, he's likely to seek and be granted a trade back to WA to play with Fremantle.

Is Brett Deledio the man to replace Steve Johnson?

The Giants lose an on-field coach with Johnson's retirement, but if he can have an incident-free pre-season, a fit Deledio looms as the man to step up his leadership.

Who will be the club's number one ruckman in round one next year?

Shane Mumford has had a mortgage on the position but his body is starting to show signs of wear and tear, so Rory Lobb and Dawson Simpson will put plenty of pressure on over summer.

Season in a song

Déjà vu – Katy Perry 

Premiership window

Wide open: All the pieces are there – they just need to make some tweaks to bring them all together. 

Who's done?

Retirements: Steve Johnson bows out after 293 games, three premierships, a Norm Smith Medal, some silly suspensions, and one hell of a highlights package.
Delistings: TBC
Unsigned free agents: Nil

Steve Johnson retired after a storied AFL career. Picture: AFL Photos
steviejretire.jpg

How should they approach trade and draft period?

The Giants need to keep adding young talent to the list and can add valuable draft picks/players if Wilson, Devon Smith and Matt Kennedy search for more opportunities elsewhere. A small forward with speed and tackle pressure could also be handy. 

Early call for 2018

Just like last year, the Giants should be aiming to go one better and make the Grand Final, and should they get some luck that should be the bare minimum. 

Giant fans: what's your season verdict? 

Share your views via the form below and we'll publish the best responses on Saturday, October 7. 

Having trouble on the app? Click here to open the form in a web view

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The Wash-Up: more season reviews