GREATER Western Sydney won't lunge too far towards a small forward line in 2018 in pursuit of more tackling pressure, with coach Leon Cameron keen for his team to continue playing to its strengths.
The Giants were the AFL's most damaging team with ball in hand last season according to Champion Data, but their defensive structure was a weakness that cost them against the best sides, winning just one of seven games against fellow top four teams.
They targeted small forwards at the NAB AFL Draft, recruiting round one bolter Zac Langdon and Brent Daniels, as well as former Carlton small forward Dylan Buckley at the Rookie Draft.
Top Giant extends stay for three more years
But while Cameron said all three of the new smalls were important inclusions, particularly after losing Devon Smith to Essendon and Steve Johnson to retirement, the Giants would still have a tall presence in attack.
"It's interesting, because in 2016 people weren't talking about (our height) and we were a kick away from a Grand Final, but in 2017 they were," Cameron told AFL.com.au.
"If you mark it then you've got an opportunity to score … but if you've got talls in your forward line, they've got to be able to put on pressure.
"We're really proud of the way Harry Himmelberg and Jeremy Cameron can do both. They can be really dynamic forwards in their own right, and they can put a lot of pressure on as well.
"Jon Patton provides us an option in the ruck as well as a key forward. But equally it's who sits around that ground level to support Jon. That's equally important."
Finding the right balance in attack is a key issue for the Giants in 2018 as the preliminary finalists for the past two seasons look to take a step forward and make their first Grand Final.
While the Giants need to play to their offensive strengths, Cameron said improving their team defence and finding new ways to score had been a focus this pre-season.
"(We've worked on) what we're doing behind the footy and making sure of our positioning and controlling the ground a bit more than we have in the past," the coach said.
"We're also working on other ways to score, including locking the ball in our front half so we can score on turnover but make sure it's close to our goal and not in our back 50.
"We've got to come up with different ways to score, not just from counter attack from our back half, which wasn't as good as 2016.
"We'll play to our strengths, but equally we need to support and make our areas of improvement better from 2017 and 2016. We've got to make sure we get that right balance."
Finding a balance between elite talent and disciplined role players is another challenge in 2018 for Cameron, who said that aspect of picking a 22 was as important as balancing talls and smalls, and inside and outside players.
Matt de Boer is a poster boy for disciplined role players at GWS after being elevated into the leadership group, while ruckman Dawson Simpson and rookie Sam Reid continue to add a blue-collar element to a talent-laden list.
While acknowledging the concessions GWS had received to build its list, Cameron said the Giants had become a "normal club" in recent seasons after a talent correction brought about by the salary cap.
"Everyone will keep looking at that (talent) … and we're not denying it, we've been lucky enough to go to the Draft to start up our footy club," the coach said.
"But they were the established rules. If someone analysed our list really closely they would see some fantastic stories of persistence and rookies and players who have had to do it really hard.
"It becomes more normal (and) we're now a normal club, instead of just being made up of high draft picks with kids from interstate … I think we've got a really good balance."