Clockwise from left: Adam Kingsley, Josh Kelly, Toby Greene and Brent Daniels. Pictures: AFL Photos

THE GIANTS have turned it around.

Last season there was a bottom-four finish, a parting with long-time senior coach Leon Cameron, and the departure of two important midfielders in Tim Taranto and Jacob Hopper. The club's prospects, at least in the short term, looked bleak.

But fast forward 12 months and Greater Western Sydney is suddenly challenging deep into September. Under the guidance of first-year coach Adam Kingsley, the Giants are a premiership threat once more.

As one of the League's most exciting young teams gears up for a semi-final against Port Adelaide this looks at the five areas where the Giants have improved to instantly return to the finals picture.

Jake Riccardi and Toby Greene celebrate a goal during Greater Western Sydney's elimination final against St Kilda on September 9, 2023. Picture: Getty Images


Adam Kingsley hasn't just fundamentally changed the way the Giants have played this season, introducing a modern and exciting game style for a promising and developing young list, but he has also stamped his authority and image across the entire club.

Kingsley wanted this season to be known for the return of the 'Orange Tsunami'. It's a brand that's synonymous with electrifying footy, but also with striking fear into the club's opposition.

That's exactly what's happened this season, with the first-year Giants coach making changes both significant and subtle across the board. That, in turn, has instilled confidence in a playing group that remains chocked full of talent.

But the belief that has emanated from the players undoubtedly reflects the coach. When the Giants fell to 4-8 and into the AFL's bottom four halfway through the campaign, Kingsley responded with the message: 'Why not us?'

Adam Kingsley (right) lines up with players ahead of Greater Western Sydney's elimination final against St Kilda at the MCG on September 9, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

There was still an unwavering faith that the Giants could not only make September, but compete deep into the finals. The club then won seven straight games after that statement, and 10 of its last 12, to book its place in a semi-final.

That's also reflected in the fact the Giants have become the first team in V/AFL history to win on 11 different grounds this season. As the motto goes, their style holds up anytime and anywhere.

The way the Giants have moved the ball this season is in stark comparison to last year, while a host of positional alterations have also seen a series of important players enjoy an improved spell of form.

Lachie Whitfield and Lachie Ash have thrived across half-back, Harry Perryman has been used in a more defensive role, while Harry Himmelberg has played his best footy after being shifted into the backline midway through the year.

Lachie Whitfield kicks the ball during Greater Western Sydney's clash against the Western Bulldogs in round 20, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Himmelberg's return to a defensive post has also enabled the Giants to find more athleticism and speed in the forward line, with Jake Riccardi and Callum Brown enabling the team to enjoy a more dynamic attack alongside Jesse Hogan.

Hogan and Brent Daniels' return to fitness, the introduction of Toby Bedford, Jack Buckley getting a sustained run of footy, and Kieren Briggs' sudden emergence as one of the League's most dominant ruck options have also helped the Giants under Kingsley's watch.

As have a series of different line coaches. Jeremy Laidler has looked after the forward line this season, Ben Hart has taken charge of the midfield, and Brett Montgomery has overseen the backline group. It's meant every player has enjoyed a different line coach, and subsequently a different perspective, this season.


What is the 'Orange Tsunami'?

Put simply, it's the Giants transitioning the ball like a wave across the field.

Under Kingsley's watch, the Giants have won the footy more often, they've kicked it forward more often, and they've attacked far quicker. From there, that has enabled them to get repeat entries and lock the ball in their forward half.

According to Champion Data, the Giants' kick forward percentage has improved from 88.9 per cent last year (ranked No.17 in the competition) to 92.8 per cent this season (ranked No.2 in the League).

Jesse Hogan celebrates a goal during Greater Western Sydney's clash against Hawthorn in round 17, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Their mark and play-on percentage has risen from 26 per cent last year (ranked No.13) to 30.3 per cent this year (ranked No.3), while their defensive half to forward 50 transition percentage has also gone from 28.5 per cent last season (ranked No.13) to 30.2 per cent this season (ranked No.4).

Those numbers suggest they're moving the ball quicker, which makes it easier for them to gain territory and play a style of football that's conducive to the modern game. Their pressure also enables them to keep the ball locked in a dangerous spot.

That's reflected in the fact that Champion Data notes their time in forward-half numbers have improved from -8.41 minutes last year (ranked No.16) to +1.06 minutes this year (ranked No.7).

Their forward-half intercepts have subsequently gone from 20.7 last year (ranked No.15) to 24.8 this year (ranked No.3), while their pressure rating has improved from 180 last campaign (ranked No.12) to 184 this season (ranked No.3).

It's a dramatic and greatly improved shift in the Giants' statistical profile, and quite remarkable that it's occurred in little more than 12 months since Kingsley took over. It's no wonder the side spent so much of last summer in the classroom, getting drilled with the nuances of their new style.


2022 AVG.


2023 AVG.

































Kingsley set his stall on the captaincy very early.

"In my whole AFL career as a player and a coach, I think I've had every program bar one under one captain," Kingsley told in pre-season. "Three captains doesn't happen very often. Do you need three captains?"

He got his way. A couple of weeks later, Toby Greene was announced as the Giants' sole skipper with Stephen Coniglio and Josh Kelly – co-captains with Greene last year – named as his vice-captains.

The result has been a campaign where Greene has thrived with the added responsibility, kicking a career-high 61 goals and earning recognition for that achievement by being named as the All-Australian captain earlier this month.

All-Australian captain Toby Greene at the 2023 AFL Awards at Centrepiece on August 30, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Coniglio has almost seemed liberated by the decision, as well. After three seasons of captaincy, he has averaged a career-high 28.3 disposals this season to go with 5.4 clearances, 4.9 inside 50s, 4.7 tackles and 7.3 score involvements.

It's arguably been Coniglio's best season, playing more through the midfield and acting as one of the League's most damaging forward-half onballers. He was named in the All-Australian squad for just the second time as a result.

Kelly, too, has been fantastic this year. In last Saturday's elimination final victory over St Kilda, he was easily the game's most influential player and finished with 27 disposals, seven clearances, eight inside 50s, two goals and 10 score involvements.

Other experienced players like Callan Ward, Whitfield, Hogan and Himmelberg have also stepped up at different stages of the campaign, with the core of the Giants' list helping their rise up the ladder.



The Giants made a conscious effort to bring speed to their attack last year.

In the knowledge that Kingsley's gameplan required an exciting batch of small forwards to add pressure and pace inside 50, the club targeted the rampaging Bedford from Melbourne to pair alongside the returning Daniels.

They also recruited Darcy Jones with pick No.21 in last year's draft and anticipated the young speedster playing senior football this season, before an ACL injury ruined his maiden campaign back in April.

Bedford, though, has turned into one of the season's best trade success stories. Having parted with pick No.44 to secure his services, the Giants have relished the immense pressure the 23-year-old applies every time the ball is in his vicinity.

Bedford's 41.2 forward-half pressure points per match are the most of anyone in the competition this season and the seventh-most ever recorded by Champion Data, since they began measuring this statistic in 2010.

He also ranks 'above average' in the game among all general forwards for AFL Player Ratings Points (8.8 per game), forward-50 groundballs (1.5), score assists (1.0) and score involvements (4.9).

Daniels has arguably been even better. Champion Data rates him 'elite' for AFL Player Ratings Points (12.5 per game), forward-50 groundball gets (2.2), score assists (1.7), score involvements (6.1) and forward-half pressure points (33.0).

Had it not been for persistent hamstring injuries rearing their ugly head, forcing Daniels to miss six games across the year, there's every chance he would have been partnered alongside Greene in the All-Australian team.


The hunt for a ruckman at the Giants is over.

Having been kept out of the team by Matt Flynn until his eventual return in round 10, Briggs' emergence as one of the competition's most imposing and damaging ruck options has helped reinvent the Giants' clearance prospects.

Briggs isn't the League's best tap ruckman, but he doesn't have to be. He plays to his strength, quite literally, as an unmovable big man who can win the footy and gain territory incredibly effectively.

Champion Data notes he ranks top 10 in the AFL this season for AFL Player Ratings (15.7 per game), disposals (15.7), contested possessions (10.8), clearances (6.6), centre clearances (2.6) and score involvements (4.5).

Kieren Briggs celebrates a goal during the match between Carlton and GWS at Marvel Stadium in round 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

He is the No.1 ruck for both clearances and centre clearances, while Champion Data also rates Briggs as the AFL's No.1 player for grabbing the ball directly out of the ruck (66 times in 15 games).

He is also a fantastic follow-up ruckman. That's evident in the fact Briggs has averaged 9.1 first possessions from stoppage per game. It's the second-most of anyone in the competition, behind only Carlton captain Patrick Cripps.

Given how important territory and surging the ball forward is to the 'Orange Tsunami' gameplan that Kingsley has tried to implement, Briggs is almost the perfect ruckman for the team's new style.