Phoenix Gothard and James Leake.

The GIANTS have kept the first round of the 2023 Draft interesting by completing two trades and securing two top talents on night one.  

Coming into the night holding picks 7 and 16, the GIANTS first did a deal with Adelaide, netting a future second-round pick as well as picks 10 and 14.  

With their first selection at pick 12 (after Academy bids), the GIANTS selected Phoenix Gothard – an exciting small forward from Albury in southern NSW.

Regarded as one of the most athletic players in the class of 2023, Gothard is a clean one-touch player who’s quick and agile. A creative and confident force up forward, he also applies relentless pressure in defence.  

GIANTS National Recruiting Manager, Adrian Caruso, was thrilled to secure Gothard.  

"We go through the whole year to come up with an order of players we like," he said.

"Once we settled on Phoenix as our main priority, and James as a second priority, we had offers to trade pick seven but we just wanted to go to the Draft and pick some players. 

"Once we knew Phoenix was our man, it was more about how do we maximise getting him while still getting some capital for next year.

"Phoenix just looks like a GIANTS player, he plays in the way we want to play and that's speed, be bold, take the game on. He's going to give us some real energy and spark in the front half."

Then holding pick 18 as more bids came in, the GIANTS sent the future second-round pick from Adelaide back to St Kilda, to jump to 17 and take utility James Leake, who was still on the board.  

Some draft experts had the GIANTS linked to Leake with their first selection, but the GIANTS managed to secure the versatile Tasmanian with their second selection before the night was out. 

Leake was a surprise packet across the year and showed he can play in a range of different positions, having impressed across all three lines in 2023.  

He was a huge factor in Tasmania's push to the Coates Talent League preliminary final and was also named an All-Australian after the Allies' title win.  

"Initially we didn't think James was going to get that far," Caruso said.

"Once it became a possibility because other clubs were picking other players, we were just getting on the phone and ringing and offering clubs future picks to get up.

"Again, James plays a GIANTS brand. He's a competitor and he's just got those real tsunami behaviours just in his ability to compete, fight and never surrender.

"He's got great versatility, his best position is probably down back but we see the potential for him to play midfield, play forward and ... play a number of different roles."

Heading into night two of the Draft, the GIANTS now hold picks 44, 50 and 64. 

"I think we'll just wake up tomorrow and reassess and take stock," Caruso said.

"We've got an Academy player in Harvey Thomas and we'll await a bid and make that call but there's also a couple of other guys that we'd be waiting to see who slips through."