With the 2022 AFLW season just weeks away, the hype is building. To help bring you up to speed on all things GIANTS, we’re breaking down each area of the ground and assessing how the squad is placed heading into the sixth season.

Ins:

Jasmine Grierson - The 23-year-old has played 32 games in the AFLW competition since arriving at the Demons for the inaugural season. She spent two seasons at Casey Fields before moving to North Melbourne for their first season in the competition and played 19 games there over the past three seasons. The defender joined the GIANTS ahead of the 2022 season and is one to watch with her skills, elite kick and footy smarts.

Outs:

Elle Bennetts - Bennetts returned to her home state in the off-season, joining the Western Bulldogs in the trade period. A former netballer in the Super Netball competition, Bennetts took to footy quickly, winning the GIANTS’ Rising Star Award in her inaugural season and being named in the 2020 All Australian squad of 40 after switching from an attacking wing role to defence. Her intercept marking and composure with the ball will be missed in the GIANTS’ backline.

Unchanged:

Pepa Randall - Now a long-time key part of the GIANTS’ backline and leadership group, Randall belies her 174cm, sometimes playing as a key defender and excelling in one-one-one contests. She often takes the opposition’s most dangerous forward and is rarely beaten. Tough and resilient, Randall also has pace and agility she can use to her advantage.

Georgia Garnett - A revelation in the 2021 season, Garnett played seven games, taking home the club’s Rising Star Award and the Community Award at the Gabrielle Trainor Medal. She is versatile and can also play forward but has made her home in the backline playing one-on-one but also using her run out of defence.

Libby Graham - A former train-on player, Graham realised her dream of playing AFLW in 2021, playing three games. An intercepting and rebounding defender, Graham will be looking to find more consistency in her game in 2022 to make a regular impact. Has benefited from another AFLW pre-season.

Louise Stephenson - Stephenson made the switch to defence a few years ago and has continued to flourish in the key position with her height and athleticism. She is often underrated in terms of her strength and can hold her own one-on-one.

Annalyse Lister - A reliable leader of the team on and off the field, Lister marshals the backline, defending well and helping to rebound the ball. Her attack and ball use has improved considerably in the off-season and the GIANTS are looking for her to drive the ball out of defence.

Erin Lorenzini (formerly Todd) - Lorenzini made her debut in round one with the former basketballer playing in defence and finishing with two games for the season. Delisted at the end of the season, Lorenzini was picked up again in the national draft. A full pre-season has helped her continue to grow on field, is a vocal leader off the field as well.

Tanya Hetherington - A defensive stalwart, the veteran continues to be an important and reliable member of the GIANTS’ backline. Plays as a key defender, and has speed to burn (just ask her!). The 36-year-old continues to flourish in the AFLW competition. The GIANTS will look to use her good ball use out of defence.

Bríd Stack - The Irishwoman is back for her second season after a serious neck injury ruined her 2021 campaign. Stack is back with her family for another shot at AFLW and is showing the glimpses of promise she showed last season before her injury. She’s quick with good game sense and has had another year under her belt mastering the Sherrin. Her physicality and aggression has developed over the pre-season after the transition from Gaelic.

State of Play:

It’s a settled backline group in 2022 with just on the one change from last season. The backline mix tended to chop and change last year so the coaches will be looking to see who can take their opportunity and cement their spot. It’s a good mix of youth and experience with some level heads to guide the next generation of GIANTS.

More of the Same Please:

Pepa Randall continues to be one of the most underrated defenders in the competition. Often giving away large height differentials to her opponents, Randall is unperturbed and wants to take on the best in the business. Strong one-on-one with good aerial skills, watch for a more attacking Randall from the GIANTS’ defensive half in 2022. Is always a barometer of the GIANTS’ intensity and aggression.

One to Watch:

She’s had an interrupted few weeks after catching COVID but 20-year-old Georgia Garnett has been the pre-season standout in the backline. After a breakout season in 2021, Garnett wants to continue to improve and hasn’t stopped working on her craft over the off-season. The young gun could end up taking the best opposition forward this season or even play a Nick Haynes-type role as an intercepting defender. Her versatility is a huge asset and though she can play across any line, backline coach Darren Ratten will be wanting to keep her with him.

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