With AFLW season seven 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 new season.
After an illustrious playing career with the East Coast Eagles, including captaining the team to three premierships in a row between 2009-11, Jon Vlatko turned his hand to coaching. Assistant coach Vlatko is in his sixth year with the GIANTS AFLW program.
Versatile GIANT Haneen Zreika will be welcomed back permanently to the forward line in season seven after playing mainly midfield and defence last season. Zreika is an attacking weapon with selflessness that can’t be taken for granted.
Former defender Georgia Garnett also makes a move into the forward line in season seven. Garnett played forward as a junior and has hit the ground running as a main target, replacing the departed Rebecca Privitelli.
Adding to the forward group is 19-year-old Tasmania Megan Gaffney, who was drafted at pick number 66 by the GIANTS in 2022. She is a natural ball hunter whose weapon is her speed.
The number one draft pick in 2018, Isabel Huntington arrived at the GIANTS ahead of season seven after a trade was facilitated with the Western Bulldogs. Following a knee reconstruction, Huntington will return to the field in season eight, but in the interim will provide a wealth of knowledge to a young and dynamic forward line.
After five seasons with the GIANTS, Rebecca Privitelli requested a trade to the Swans for season seven.
Louise Stephenson – who also played in defence in her time at the club - returned home to Victoria to join the inaugural Hawthorn AFLW team.
Recipient of both leading goal kicker and Jacinda Barclay Fearless awards earlier in 2022, Cora Staunton returns to the GIANTS primed to continue her dominance in front of goals. Staunton kicked 18 goals in 10 games last season for 47 goals in her 40 games.
Nicola Barr’s cameo appearances in the forward line in season six were a tremendous success with the inaugural GIANT kicking five goals across the season – her first goals since debuting in 2017. Barr will face a delayed start to the season after managing a knee injury but will look to make a big impact on her return.
Young star Jess Doyle kicked five goals from six games in her debut AFLW season in 2022 and is an exciting threat with a year of AFLW football already under her belt. Doyle will look to exceed her goal kicking tally as she grows into her second year in the competition.
Georgie Fowler has an inherent ability to evade defenders and find the goals. After one game in her first season in early 2022, she enters season seven stronger and more confident in her ability following an impressive Winter Series campaign with the GIANTS.
The forward 50 pressure of Brodee Mowbray is unmatched and is something the club is looking forward to in season seven. After two games in her debut season, Mowbray has worked incredibly hard in the off-season to become another consistent marking target option in the forward line.
Former heptathlete Casidhe Simmons brings an x-factor to the group with her natural speed and athletic ability. New to the game, but a mature athlete, Simmons is looking to add to the two games she played in her debut season in early 2022.
State of Play:
Vlatko is most excited about the continued development of the forward line. There are some new and young faces – and existing GIANTS who will see more forward action – but they’re led by the incomparable Cora Staunton who, at age 40, is still one of the best players in the AFLW competition. With a combination of experience and youth, the group offers a multitude of attacking weapons.
More of the Same Please:
Jess Doyle is known around the club for her enthusiasm and smile, and she has a unique ability to lift the energy of players around her.
Doyle can not only kick goals off her own boot but bring teammates into the game through this energy. The second-year GIANT was an important off-season signing and will be looking to take her game to a new level in season seven.
One to Watch:
Georgie Fowler’s growth in confidence and ‘no fuss’ approach has led to a mature understanding of the game in a short period of time. Fowler has previously been part of the Rugby 7s talent pathway and now plays at the East Coast Eagles in the AFLW competition. She’s powerful and is a good one-on-one player with an eye for the goals and has kicked bags of goals in the underpinning competitions.