A finals win over cross-town rivals Sydney was the icing on the cake for Greater Western Sydney’s 2021 season, with Leon Cameron’s side having crept into the top eight after claiming three wins in their final three matches of the home and away season.
Having taken a step backward the year prior and losing a handful of star talent through the 2020 off-season, the Giants were able to continue their known form of developing key youngsters into A-grade talent.
The Giants have the personnel to challenge toward the top third of the AFL this season, with the West Sydney side hoping to emulate the formula that saw Melbourne rise to premiership glory last year.
In: Finn Callaghan, Leek Aleer, Jarrod Brander, Josh Fahey, Cooper Hamilton
Out: Matt Buntine, Sam Reid, Nick Shipley, Tom Hutchesson, Jeremy Finlayson, Shane Mumford
Clearances - 5th
Contested Possessions - 5th
Rebound 50s - 3rd
Disposal Efficiency - 14th
Centre Clearances - 13th
Uncontested Possessions - 14th
Star player: Lachie Whitfield
Whether it be down back, through the middle or in the forward half, Lachie Whitfield knows how to find the ball, and once he has it, you can count on him using it with near-perfect efficiency.
The two-time Kevin Sheedy medallist is set to be deployed at half-back while sharing his services through midfield, with Whitfield offering elite run and carry to hand his teammates the best access to the Sherrin.
The flashy Giant headlines a long list of star talent that don the orange and charcoal, but the former No.1 pick is certainly the most consistent of them all. With the Giants looking to back up their place as a top contender in 2022, Whitfield will be a catalyst for a successful season.
One to watch: Tom Green
Having narrowly missed out on the Rising Star Award in 2021, Tom Green is sure to play with a chip on his shoulder as he sets on course to stake his claim as one of the AFL’s most promising midfielders.
The 21-year-old is already a mainstay in the Giants’ midfield rotations, having averaged 20 disposals, three tackles, four clearances and close to 10 contested possessions per game last year.
Now entering his third season in the Harbour City, Green could be the next young Giant to breakout and begin competing for a place atop Leon Cameron’s pecking order of onballers.
Under pressure: Toby Greene
Missing the first five matches of the season due to suspension, Greene will be looking to make up for lost time when he returns to face the Saints in Round 6. From there, the Giants superstar must be back to his best, with his side likely to be behind the eight ball prior to his comeback.
There’s no doubting Greene’s calibre and pedigree, arguably ranking as the game’s most lethal forward, but a clean record is a must should the Giants want to be among the top bracket of teams.
Greene has been found guilty 22 times by the Match Review, a stunning tally across just 176 career matches.
The Giants amassed a top-eight finish in 2021, which may have come as some surprise for many. Leon Cameron has the arsenal at his disposal to contend for another finals finish, however his side have been forced to endure injury issues that have hampered their premiership hopes in recent seasons.
With co-captain Stephen Coniglio looking to get back to his best brand of football and a new wave of young stars set to be knocking on the door, the Giants are sure to be buoyed by optimism for 2022.
While they may be able to improve on a strong 2021 campaign, there’s no guarantee Greater Western Sydney will be among the action come September this season, although 2022 could see the New South Wales side deny the doubters once again.
Five matches to watch
Round 1 vs. Sydney, Accor Stadium, Saturday March 19
Round 3 vs. Gold Coast, GIANTS Stadium, Saturday April 2
Round 13 vs. Western Bulldogs, GIANTS Stadium, TBC
Round 20 vs. Sydney, SCG, TBC
Round 22 vs. Western Bulldogs, Marvel Stadium, TBC
All time games
- Callan Ward - 188
- Toby Greene - 176
- Jeremy Cameron - 171
- Phil Davis - 169
- Lachie Whitfield - 167
All time goals
- Jeremy Cameron - 427
- Toby Greene - 228
- Jonathan Patton - 130
- Harry Himmelberg - 127
- Devon Smith - 100
MOST DISPOSALS: Tim Taranto - 372
MOST TACKLES: Tim Taranto - 128
MOST CLEARANCES: Jacob Hopper - 145
MOST MARKS: Nick Haynes - 156
MOST GOALS: Toby Greene - 45