GIANTS’ hard nut Xavier O’Halloran says Thursday night’s impressive pre-season win over the Gold Coast Suns was the perfect dress rehearsal for their mouth-watering Opening Round clash with Collingwood.

Playing in their only AAMI Community Series match ahead of next week’s inaugural Opening Round, the GIANTS were back to their best as they downed the Suns by 44 points in front of the Canberra crowd at Manuka Oval.

O’Halloran - who starred in the win - said the performance was the ideal lead up to their season-opener with the reigning premiers at GIANTS Stadium next week.


“It’s great to come out and have a really good dress rehearsal up against a system that will be similar to Collingwood’s next week,” he said.

“We really delivered on the points we wanted to pre-game following the practice match last week against the Swans, which we weren’t happy with as it didn’t look like a GIANTS’ game.

“We definitely implemented our standards against the Suns which was pleasing to see.

“One of our foundations is our pressure and we let ourselves down a bit last week [against the Swans] in that area and so we had a real emphasis on lifting that and we certainty delivered.

“It was a great dress rehearsal [against the Suns] and great to get back to our standard of footy and now we have to go out there and deliver it in the Opening Round against Collingwood which is a bloody exciting.”

The GIANTS will enter their season-opener against the Magpies with a number of selection dilemmas - of the good kind - with several youngsters impressing over the summer and against the Suns, while established pieces Jesse Hogan and Lachie Ash will return for next week’s match.

“It’s always a great spot for a club to be when there’s always pressure for selection and when you’ve got younger boys pushing for spots,” O’Halloran said.

“We’ve got a few young boys like ‘Cads’ [Aaron Cadman], ‘Muff’ [Toby McMullin], Leek [Aleer], Harvey Thomas, who have been delivering so I think we’re in a great spot and the depth and the pressure for spots is a really exciting thing for us.

“The pressure is definitely on for selection and all the boys know it and it’s why guys really delivered on their end against the Suns.”

Spending last year as a high half-forward, O’Halloran has admittedly gone ‘back to my roots’ in a more familiar position balancing time as a hard-running wingman and as an inside midfielder during the pre-season.

The move paid dividends against the Suns as the strong-bodied 23-year-old battled it out with skipper Toby Greene and star on-baller Tom Green for best on ground honours in the win.

Utilising his clean hands and his elite ability to break tackles, O’Halloran finished the game with 26 disposals,13 contested possessions and eight inside-50s to play a huge role in the victory.

“It was certainly rewarding to play well,” the former Vic-Metro captain said.

“My week in review [following last week’s game against the Swans] had a couple of real focus points - being clean with the footy and executing my fundamental role - and I got to work at the club behind closed doors to deliver on those and it was really nice to be able to deliver on that against the Suns.

“Last year I played forward for most of the year and this year I expect a mix of the wing and a bit of inside mid and I grew up playing inside mid so it’s been nice to sort of get back to those roots.”

While his attention was already firmly focused on the Opening Round match-up with Collingwood, O’Halloran was quick to praise the Canberra community for the support shown over the last few days as part of the GIANTS’ Community Camp in the region.

“The camp was great. We went to some local footy clubs on Wednesday and did some drills with the kids which is always a bit of fun and then on Friday we all went to local school and had some more fun with the younger kids which was great.

“It’s always great heading down to Canberra as we have a great supporter base there who always come out and bring the energy for us at Manuka Oval and so the camp is a way of showing how grateful we are for the support they show us.”

The GIANTS will face Collingwood on Saturday, March 9 at GIANTS Stadium as part of the AFL’s inaugural Opening Round.