Jack Buckley in action during Greater Western Sydney's clash against North Melbourne in round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

IF THERE was a moment across the first month of the season that summed up the ruthlessness that Adam Kingsley is imploring from Greater Western Sydney, it's likely that Jack Buckley provided it in the win over West Coast.

Already leading by 10 goals at the start of the last term against the wooden spoon favourites, Buckley launched into a marauding Tim Kelly and hauled him down as he was cruising through on goal.

Just days earlier, Kingsley had demanded his team's defence be strong and stingy' regardless of the opposition after a lackadaisical approach at times against North Melbourne in round one.

Buckley's effort in the west exemplified that.

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"That's just where the instincts kick in. He's coming at speed, I'm coming at speed and you hope it sticks. I love to tackle. It's always been a really strong part of my game no matter what position I've played in over the years. I really pride myself on that sort of stuff," Buckley told AFL.com.au.

"You want to take the score out of it and just defend for four quarters the way you want to. And I think the first couple of rounds we didn't get it completely right and we wanted to get back to our defensive identity and to be able to keep them goalless for a couple of quarters.

"To be able to pull that off and get our identity back on the defensive end was a big step forward for this season and something we'll definitely build off."


A moment like that for a backman like Buckley is akin to a big goal for most other players on the ground.

"Yeah, definitely. You might not get to celebrate too much because you don't get a minute off afterwards and get a high five from everyone like a forward does," he said.

"But sometimes you'll see just really crucial spoils or big tackles like that and you'll see the backs all get around each other. There'll be a couple hugs and then we've all got to run back to stoppage or set up in defence pretty quickly."

At the Giants, moments like that have become common place down back.


Their defensive group is lauded as arguably the best in the competition right now under the stewardship of the impenetrable Sam Taylor.

"He's had a fair journey as well. He had septic arthritis in his third or fourth year, which, watching him go through that and sitting next to him in the hospital, was pretty confronting. I think that's something with him that probably doesn't get spoken about enough because that was actually kind of life threatening.

"It's certainly not lost on anyone at the Giants that having the best backman in the comp is a really good thing to have. And to be able to play alongside that down in the backline certainly fills you with a lot of confidence.

"The great thing about Sam is that he's not just an intercept defender, he beats his man first and then marks it. Most of the marks come in one-on-one contests, which is pretty rare. I think you'll find most of the other high intercept mark getters tend to come off their man and mark it, whereas he beats his man and then marks it on him. I definitely think he's the best going around, so to be able to play alongside that is certainly a privilege."

Jack Buckley, Connor Idun and Sam Taylor after GWS' win over Port Adelaide in the 2023 semi-final. Picture: AFL Photos

Alongside his former housemate in Taylor, Buckley has flourished since breaking back into the Giants team at the start of last season following a horror injury run.

He may still be four games shy of 50 AFL games but with Taylor he has strong claims to rival Melbourne's Steven May and Jake Lever as the best key defensive combination in the competition.

"We're great mates and have been since the moment we walked in the door together. So, to be able to be spoken about like that, it's a good feeling I guess, and to be able to play alongside each other so tightly like that, it's amazing.

"I think as a backline, I don't think someone like Connor Idun gets spoken about enough. He'll find himself on smalls as well, but he can play on talls too. And I think he's the most versatile backman going around."

Jack Buckley and Callum Coleman-Jones compete during Greater Western Sydney's clash against North Melbourne in round one, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

There are very few, if any, flaws to be found across every positional line at the Giants, but it's the incredibly settled defensive group that forms the backbone of a side that is 3-0 ahead of this week's Gather Round clash against Gold Coast and is now the outright premiership favourite.

Talk of a flag at the Giants is embraced.

But after the injury turmoil of a knee reconstruction and the complications that followed, 26-year-old Buckley isn't likely to forego the hard work required to get there.

"It's every footy player's dream, so you're always going to dream about it and think about it. We've got no illusions that's our goal for the season and we're building towards that," he said.

"But you can build towards it as much as you like, you've got to put in the work too. We're really focused on not just thinking about the result of being there. Kinga's (Kingsley) messaging around that is really consistent and strong and makes a pretty clear picture of what it takes to reach something like that."